Greetings fans of cynic reviews and tirades. This time of year we celebrate Thanksgiving with the usual Turkey records of 2013, thankfully which we don't get much of in this day and age since hardly anybody sells CDs anymore. But sometimes we come across things that while first impressions didn't give any lasting impression, the second go around means that the CD get donated back to charity. The true meaning of sharing turkey.
For the past couple years, the majority of turkey records meant that they simply didn't stand out. And some remain in my collection. Some have value, most don't. And a few will be destined for reassignment later on. But for the most part, the top turkeys have moved on. Like anything, albums were released with the general intent to entertain not annoy. But sometimes we get caught up in the hype and buy them anyway, thus losing precious time and money and brain cells in the process. It used to be that I took great delight and slamming crappy albums but since we have many many blogs out there that do that and do it better, I try to find some good in what was released as turkey releases. And in the end, just throwing up our hands in disgust and chop away. Nobody reads them anyway, they don't read the praises of the best albums why start now (right Thomas Ruf?).
In a year of cutting back on new music, I still managed to review enough music to come up with two kinds of lists. The first are the disappointments and crappy ones and the second list for later is the best of the year. Unlike the last couple years, I stayed away from the real crap that's on top forty radio or what Cumulus/Clear Channel plays. While it's certainly temping to check out Lady Gaga's latest or Miley Cyrus albums during the Best Buy Beat The Rush Sale this week (both albums are 6.99 as well as the new Paul McCartney, Elton John, Kings Of Leon and Katy Perry but get them this week before the prices goes back to 15 bucks a disc) common sense may tell me not to even bother them. But in this day and age, if I did that, chances are that I wouldn't be able to recoup my losses if I resold it somewhere down the line, like the new Alice In Chains which is now selling for three bucks on Amazon used. But people don't buy CDs like I do anymore, they're prone to download them. And with Best Buy continuing to shrink their bins, we're going be stuck to do just that,ordering it online or downloading, which is something I don't do. Download. Got too much actual product to choose from while sealing books at work. Gotta find some way to pass the time.
It's easy to make lists to say such and such a record sucks and getting backlash from trolls on the net bitching about me bitching about how such and such sucks. It's a matter of opinion and if I pay my hard earned dollars to hear such crap, then I can bitch about how such and such sucks. I'm investing time and money into a product that intrigued me enough to buy it. Even with the established artist, it's buyer beware. Sometimes the song samples you hear don't reveal the whole album and sometimes you get suckered into buying a crappy record.
The ten records I chosen are different and sometimes my reasons are easy. Over the hill old fart rocker trying to reclaim the past and falling on his face, or don't make enough sales since their record was polished but unmemorable, or being reissued with bonus tracks every other month don't help them either. Or the record was just boring. Or relied too much on the past and loaded up on guest stars to make a listenable record. It fooled Rolling Stone into making one of them a five star album but for myself, I actually listened to it and thought otherwise. I rarely buy shitty music unless it's in the cheap bins and that gets me into trouble. But the first five, I'd say all but two of them really were bad. The next five, while not bad, got done in by either bad production or a change in style that didn't do anything for me. But I can guarantee you the last entry, the lead singer should just named it under his name, it would have fared better. But not by much.
And now, pass the gravy. Here is the Turkey Shoot of 2013.
1. Luke Bryan-Crash My Party (Capitol/Universal) A no brainer for biggest Gobble Gobble Gobble of the year; Bro country with plenty of party anthems and oogling at girls who like to shake it but perhaps the odious line ever uttered, a little Conway and T Pain. And country purists rebelled. And you couldn't escape the puke inducing That's My Kind Of Night anywhere at your local Dollar General playing new Country. To which said song has passed Train's Hey Soul Sister as the worst song all time. Dallas Davidson isn't laughing with you, he's laughing AT you all the way to the bank, and on to the nearest McDonalds for that catfish dinner. Pure autotuned garbage for the bro country knuckleheads.
2. David Bowie-The Next Day (Columbia/ISO) Bowie has always been one of those contrary artists that seems to be overrated and overblown in rock and roll history but I paid attention to some of his best moments (Station To Station, The first Changes Bowie album, even Reality) and some of his worst (Heathen, Hours, most of his late 90s stuff) but after Reality, the thin white duke retired. Or so he said. Earlier in March he put out The Next Day, which of course the mags called it comeback of the year but for myself what I heard was one big snooze. But then Bowie wouldn't go away, he decided to put out a revision with a couple new tracks and then repeated the process with a overblown 2 CD set. Talk about overkill and the bonus cuts weren't much better. But that's the problem of music today, the continuation of reissuing the album with bonus cuts a few months later thus pissing the original buyers off. Either release it all or don't. Another reason why nobody buys new music anymore.
3. Pinnick, Gales & Pridgen (Magna Carta) A minor league supergroup but features beloved King's X singer Doug Pinnick blues guitar slinger Eric Gales and Tom Pridgen (The dreaded Mars Volta) they get together, turns the amps up to 11 and make music in the tradition of what Jimi Hendrix did when he was alive and looking for a new sound. but upon hearing this these would have been left in the can had Hendrix been alive. Probably would helped even more if they gotten somebody other than Mike Varney as producer who tends to put his grubby hands all over projects for his own benefit (see Craig Erickson and UFO). A blown opportunity.
4. The Winery Dogs (Loud N Proud) Another supergroup of sorts this features the overbearing Mike Portnoy meeting with Billy Sheehan (Mr Big, David Lee Roth) and Richie Kotzen (Solo star who replaced CC Deville in Poison for one album) and of course it's fun to hear Billy, Mike and Richie trying to see who can top each other in soloing. Which might be great in concert setting but not on record not much so. Plus the record goes on too long. Way too long, I don't think I even heard the last couple of songs. Overwhelming solos!, Unmemorable songs.
5. I Am War-Outlive You All (Razor & Tie) Hardcore screamo, it's so 1996 and Linkin Park probably did it better. A couple of minor league hardcore punkers get together to make a 26 minute screamfest that goes nowhere fast. For a new release I've seen most copies in the dollar bins already. That's all you need to know. But they do get points for inventive titles though (Don't Worship Assholes, Uninvite Me To Your Facebook Party).
6. Craig Erickson-Galactic Roadhouse (Blues Bureau) I love Craig Erickson and he's done some good albums over the years but when he teams up with Mike Varney he overdoes it and this record is another example of that. You don't need to solo after every line in the song Craig. Unless you're trying out for the Winery Dogs.
7. Elton John-The Wishing Board (Capitol/Mercury) I have followed Elton John throughout the years, enjoyed his classic period (Don't Shoot Me, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Rock Of The Westies), tolerated his late 70s confusing albums (Single Man, Blue Moves) and celebrated his return to the spotlight (Too Low For Zero) and it has been a roller coaster ride. When you think he hit rock bottom again (the lackluster The Big Picture), he comes back and makes a return to form (Songs From The West Coast). But I don't know, the T Bone Burnett era has very hit and miss, the good but uneven The Union with Leon Russell (ruined by over the top chick singers) and this new effort which while touted as a return back to the Honky Chateau sound, but in reality it isn't. The songs don't stand out much and Elton doesn't sing like he did back in 72. But then again nobody can't sing like that back in 72 either. And this album needs Davey Johnstone and Nigel Olssen more than John Henry Burnett's session men. And the buying public ignored this effort too. It may have been the bomb of 2013 sad to say. Maybe Lefsetz is right, the world doesn't need music from old rock and rollers anymore. Just like the world doesn't need more cynic blogs from has been A and R men that couldn't dictate a hit for WASP either.
8. John Fogerty-Wrote A Song For Everyone (Vanguard) With CCR John rewrote the book on rock and roll and may have pioneered Americana without knowing it. However since the acrimonious breakup and the endless world war between John and the CCR rhythm section, John has made a big attempt to reclaim the CCR catalog with this star studded album that is part cheese and part nostalgia to which Rolling Stone gave it a 5 star rating. Buyer beware. Tina Turner owns Proud Mary and the usually likable Jennifer Hudson oversings. Last time I cared was John's return to Fantasy with Revival six years ago and I'll go with that. Or seek out the original versions on those CCR albums. Or go see the CCR tribute band featuring the rhythm section.
9. Queens Of The Stone Age-Like Clockwork (Matador) Perhaps the biggest disappointing album to me has to be this one from Josh Homme and company to which we heard that Nick Oliveri and Dave Grohl appears on this but they are not mentioned anywhere in the liner notes of this cd, which there is no liner notes, you have to go to the damn website to see who plays who and even that website was a clusterfuck to get into. Plenty of all stars on this, Elton John, Trent Reznor, Alex Turner, hell even Jake Shears from Scissor Sisters but dammed if I know where they appear at. Most of the songs are mid tempo but none stood out for me. (I Sat By The Ocean the best track). An ho hum effort from a band that I expected a bit more out of. BTW, his Kyuss bandmates had a new album out and it too was a bit lackluster.
10. Queensryche (Geoff Tate)-Frequency Unknown (Cleopatra) And finally the big mess that is Geoff Tate's version of Queensryche. And if you have been a fan of theirs, the past ten years haven't been too kind to you, with the band following Tate's vision and making a flop followup to Operation Mindcrime (although the high point was Ronnie James Dio trading vocals with Geoff) a strange album of cover versions, a interesting concept album about American Soliders which I thought was pretty good and then Dedicated to Chaos, to which the wheels fell off. Something had to give and the band fired Tate after the singer's erratic behavior in 2010 thereabouts. This year both Geoff Tate and the other guys made new albums, the self titled Queensryche (Century Media) turned out to a surprise hit with Todd La Torre taking over vocals and actually doing a great job of it. Whereas Tate, continued with long time producer Jason Slater and taking Kelly Gray with him and a few of heavy metals heavy hitters (Simon Wright, Rudy Sarzo) and guest stars galore and put out this answer to Dedicated To Chaos. The original production was muddy and outside of Cold, the failed single, nothing off F.U. really stood out. Plus the sad fact that Tate's vocals have deteriorated over the years didn't help things either. Plus the four remakes of the hits long ago is as pointless as they come. A sad reminder of what used to be great the shooting star that is Geoff Tate, crash and burn.
Gobble Gobble Gobble indeed.
Thank you Vampirestat for padding the ratings and doing nothing in the process.
And thanks to Robert Christgau for the inspiration of the Turkey Shoot.