Jan 072013

There were so many good albums this year that I couldn’t make the decision to rank them, and I know that’s not the most important decision anyway, so this year’s best-of list is in groups with no internal order. This is the art I spent my cherished/wasted time consuming this year. Hope everybody’s upcoming year is full of growth.

Albums, Best of the Best:

Albums, Rest of the Best:

EPs, 7″s, Demos:

Reissues, Lost Albums

  • Tony FlaminioThe Grim Repair - from the head of the Failures’ Union, reissue of 2003 cd-R
  • Karen Dalton – 1966 - haunting voice and banjo recorded over porches and kitchen tables at her cabin in Boulder CO
  • Michael Hurley – Back Home with Drifting Woods - unreleased 1964 sessions from the freak folker and gorgeous yodeler
  • Jawbreaker – Bivouac - the glory

  • Padgett Powell – You & Me - nothing has to be as shitty as everything is; read this for energy
Reasons to Stay Alive Next Year
  • Drag the River, Lenny Lashley, Billy Bragg, Sebadoh,Tin Armor, and Failures’ Union full-lengths. Freakwater playing shows again.
Stay free,


May 012012

Billy + Joe is the duo of Vancouver-based songwriter Billy the Kid and Richmond’s Joe McMahon, who fronts the rock band Smoke or Fire. Their first collaborative project was a youtube onslaught of 31 cover songs in 31 days this past January. Now, they’ve released their first batch of original songs–the Breathe EP. You should listen to it.

They make such interesting partners–Billy’s songs sound a little like a Smoke or Fire singalong anthem, and Joe’s songs seem to owe a lot to Billy the Kid’s bedroom chorales. The back-and-forth between them isn’t cheap lust, it’s total respect–like a Gaye/Terrell duet. They bring out the best in each other, they make riskier choices on this EP than in their solo work. It’s rare to hear a duo wherein both the male and female voices can be both muscly and vulnerable. It makes for a balanced album and a ton of great choruses. Listen to this if you like Archers of Loaf or Aimee Mann or if you know what’s good for you.

Billy + Joe – Blood
Billy + Joe – Falling
Billy + Joe – Whiskey

Buy Breathe on iTunes, keep up with Billy + Joe on Facebook, and watch all their videos, including the 31 cover songs (which prove to be one hell of a punk rock oral history), on the billyplusjoe youtube channel.