Monday, January 02, 2023

Best Music of 2022 - Part 3

I usually wrap up this list on New Year's Eve. This year, I actually tried to write this post on Christmas Eve, but then I got too busy and was traveling over the holidays. So, here I am finalizing this thing a couple days into the New Year.

As always, thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

5. Bonny Light Horseman - Rolling Golden Holy

My top two candidates for show of the year were Dirty Deeds (an AC/DC cover band) at the Breakaway in Danvers and Bonny Light Horseman at the Sinclair in Cambridge. The latter was an amazing show, and probably worthy of the honor, but the Dirty Deeds show was Little Chuck's first and he met the lead singer and lead guitarist.

4. American Aquarium - Chicamacomico

3. Pedro the Lion - Havasu

2. Cloud Cult - Metamorphosis

Cloud Cult's fifth top ten album ties them with The National, Wilco and Drive-By Truckers for the most in the history of this list. 

1. Anais Mitchell - Anais Mitchell

Anais Mitchell (also a member of Bonny Light Horseman) becomes the fifth person to make the top ten twice in the same year, and the first since Jay Bennett in 2002.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Best Music of 2022 - Part 2

And now for the top ten: 
10. Spiritualized - Everything Was Beautiful

9. First Aid Kit - Palomino

8. Craig Finn - A Legacy of Rentals

7. Death Cab for Cutie - Asphalt Meadows

6. Spoon - Lucifer on the Sofa

Friday, December 16, 2022

Best Music of 2022 - Part 1

2022 was another year that I placed less emphasis on new music than usual. It's probably because I'm getting old, but I've also reached a point where one partial listen to a new album is sometimes enough for a quick dismissal. It's possible I'm overlooking growers, but I've just reached a point where I just feel like spending more time with music I know I like.

Little Chuck's interest in music is another reason. He's still only into one band really -- AC/DC -- but he seems to be finding an appreciation for other music as well. But perhaps my musical highlight of the year is he started guitar lessons in March and has made amazing progress. I'm really excited to live vicariously through him on this one. 

All that being said, I still found 22 albums worth ranking in a year end list. So, without further ado, on to the first installment of my top 22 albums of 2022. 

22. Def Leppard - Diamond Star Halos

21. The Smile - A Light for Attracting Attention

20. Wilco - Cruel Country

19. Tomberlin - I Don't Know Who Needs to Hear This…

18. Camp Cope - Running With the Hurricane

17. MJ Lenderman - Boat Songs

16. The Reds, Pinks & Purples - Summer at Land's End

15. Pinegrove - 11:11

14. Stars - From Capelton Hill

13. Momma - Household Name

12. Drive-By Truckers - Welcome 2 Club XIII

11. Big Thief - Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You

Friday, December 31, 2021

Best Music of 2021

Well, 2021 was a little better than 2020. 

Actually, it was probably quite a bit better, but the thing that brings it down a notch is that "Is this thing ever going to end?" question that keeps hanging over our heads. I honestly don't know the answer, but that's all I'm going to say about it. 

I do, however, want to point out one more pandemic upside that I neglected to mention last year. I really bonded with my sister, to the point that she pretty much texts me about the Yankees every night during baseball season. In fact, I'm not really sure if she realizes I live out of market and don't have an MLB.TV subscription -- although maybe I should -- so I don't watch every game. But, beyond her newfound baseball obsession, she really has become my best friend. Not that we weren't close before, but I really feel like we've become even closer and that's pretty awesome, because she's my only sibling. 

2021 was also the year Little Chuck really developed an interest in music. Well, in one band, that is. He's become an AC/DC fanatic, and he and I have really bonded over that. He's even helped me decide that, while I've always been partial to Bon Scott over Brian Johnson, I like the latter as a singer better. It's just that the Bon Scott material is more consistent and stronger overall. 

While I'm on the subject of AC/DC, another thing I missed last year was that Power Up, AC/DC's 2020 release, was probably their best album since Back in Black, and probably year-end list-worthy. 

Anyway, on to the music of 2021. I'm only ranking the top 20 this year. My philosophy for the past I-don't-know-how-many years has been to just cut off the rankings at the point where I feel the albums are worthy of acknowledgment...although I have to admit a predilection toward round numbers, so that's why it's not a top 18 or a top 21. 

As I've done in recent years, I'll present this as one continuously updated post, so be sure to check back for more. Oh, and I hope you and yours have a happy and healthy new year. Thanks again for paying attention. 

20. The Black Keys - Delta Kream

19. The Hold Steady - Open Door Policy

18. The Weather Station - Ignorance

17. Middle Kids - Today We're the Greatest

16. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - New Fragility

15. Sturgill Simpson - The Ballad of Dood & Juanita

14. David Crosby - For Free

I was as surprised as you are. 

13. Hiss Golden Messenger - Quietly Blowing It

12. Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Way Down in the Rust Bucket (Live)

11. Lucy Dacus - Home Video

10. CHVRCHES - Screen Violence

9. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - Carnage

8. The Reds, Pinks and Purples - Uncommon Weather

7. Big Red Machine - How Long Do You Think It's Gonna Last? 

6. James McMurtry - The Horses and the Hounds

5. Julien Baker - Little Oblivions

4. Cassandra Jenkins - An Overview on Phenomenal Nature

3. Pinegrove - Amperland, NY

My pal el squared says I turned him on to Pinegrove back when Cardinal was my #3 album of 2016, but his early year obsession with this album influenced me to become somewhat obsessed with it as well. It spent most of the rest of the year as my #2 album, although I occasionally considered bumping it up to #1.

2. The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings

At one point during the pandemic, I decided I should mail order some albums from a different indie band each month. The each month thing didn't last, but The Besnard Lakes were the first purchase I made, and this album was my frontrunner for album of the year from the day it was released until it was bumped from the top spot by a late October release. 

1. The War on Drugs - I Don't Live Here Anymore

The aforementioned late October release puts The War on Drugs in a category with Pernice Brothers and Cloud Cult as the only bands to reach album of the year status twice in the 26 year history of my list. 

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

All-Time Teams #21: Philadelphia Phillies

This is part of a really long ongoing series where I'm naming an all-time team for each of the current 30 MLB franchises.

Franchise History

Philadelphia Phillies (1890- )
Philadelphia Quakers (1883-1889)

An asterisk (*) denotes a Hall of Famer.

C - Darren Daulton (1983, 1985-1997)
1B - Ryan Howard (2004-2016)
2B - Chase Utley (2003-2015)
SS - Jimmy Rollins (2000-2014)
3B - Mike Schmidt* (1972-1989)
LF - Ed Delahanty* (1888-1889, 1891-1901)
CF - Richie Ashburn* (1948-1959)
RF - Chuck Klein* (1928-1933, 1936-1944)

A bunch of fairly obvious choices here. The advanced stats like Bobby Abreu over Klein in right field, but I decided to give the nod to the Hall of Famer who played most of his career in Philadelphia. 

Steve Carlton* (1972-1986)
Robin Roberts* (1948-1961)
Pete Alexander* (1911-1917, 1930)
Cole Hamels (2006-2015)
Jim Bunning* (1964-1968, 1970)

The top three are obvious, but Hamels was a pretty easy choice as well, with his 2008 World Series MVP boosting his case.

Tug McGraw (1975-1984)

C - Carlos Ruiz (2006-2016)
1B/3B/LF - Dick Allen (1963-1969, 1975-1976)
2B - Nap Lajoie* (1896-1900)
SS - Larry Bowa (1970-1981)
3B - Scott Rolen (1996-2002)
OF - Billy Hamilton* (1890-1895)
OF - Bobby Abreu (1998-2006)

I was as surprised as you about Nap Lajoie, but his five seasons in Philadelphia were enough to earn a backup role over the likes of Juan Samuel and Mickey Morandini. Billy Hamilton is another Hall of Famer who didn't play in Philadelphia long, but the team needs a backup center fielder and he's the best choice for that role. 

Sherry Magee is easily the toughest omission here. I think he's a highly underrated player who only falls a little short of being worthy of Hall of Fame discussion, but Dick Allen gets the nod as a guy who can backup at both 1B and LF. 

Curt Schilling (1992-2000)
Chris Short (1959-1972)
Ron Reed (1976-1983)
Curt Simmons (1947-1950, 1952-1960)

Charlie Manuel (2005-2013)

I figured a team that's been around as long as this team has would have a more celebrated manager, but I was wrong.  

Next Up: Pittsburgh Pirates