Friday, December 26, 2008

The Paisley Umbrella's Top Ten for 2008

The Paisley Umbrella's Top Ten Albums of 2008,

Out of nearly 90 reviews this year, here's my top 10. I thoroughly enjoyed listening and writing about everyone, but a whole list would be a little too much. Enjoy.

The Stems

Heads Up!
Shock Records
Available in the US and Canada through Get Hip Distribution

The Stems made some great neo garage music in the mid '80s and then broke up to form other bands such as The Someloves, Chevelles, DM3, and a few others. Heads up! finds Dom Mariani, Richard Lane, Julian Matthews,, and Dave Shaw doing something that's brillaint and seems effortless for them. Guitar driven, melodic powerpop, but much edgier. For some, Heads Up! is a reminder of how much we missed. For others, an introduction to the incredible talents of Dom and Richard. Seeing them live and getting a chance to meet them at South By Southwest this year was a life changing event. For many of you who were lucky enough to see them or at least, heard them for the first time this year, you might feel the same. Go Here for a full review of Heads Up!

The Contrast

Perfect Disguise: Introducing The Contrast
Wicked Cool Records

Middleborough's The Contrast occupy their own space. It's hard to say what they sound like. One hears traces of early REM, Tom Petty, and Paul Weller with their six-string Rickenbacker sound which is so central to the music, but the song timing is odd at times (especially evident on previous releases like Forget To Tell The Time, the song structures different, and on top of that, it's highly polished powerpop. The result is that The Contrast are incredibly distinctive and don't really "sound" like anyone else, but the music remains catchy and accessible. The Contrast is well off the beaten path. Read the original review of Perfect Disguise here.

John Doe

A Year In The Wilderness
Yep Roc Records

I couldn't figure out why I loved this so much. This one really gets a hold of you and pulls you in. It works as a whole piece of work. John Doe is simply incredible, but his history sets the backdrop for his music: L.A. Punk, American music, incredible songwriting. "Hotel Ghost" is haunting, "Golden State" is strangely uplifting but not optimistic, "The Meanest Man In The World" is a pure illustration, "Darling Underdog", which had lyrics that Exene contributed, is just beautiful. A Year In The Wilderness rocks with pure heart and soul. Amazing.

The Fleshtones

Take A Good Look
Yep Roc Records

2008 was the year of The Fleshtones. These guys invented Super Rock, a genre of loud, fun rock 'n' roll that's takes roots from just about every influential three chord rock band and made it fun again. Their songs range from loud and fun ("Shiny Hiney") to a deep Kinks feel ("This Time Josephine") and still retain a sound and feel that's pure Fleshtones. They toured endlessly to support Take A Good Look. Hopefully, most of you finally did. For a full review of Take A Good Look, Go Here.

The Shake

Tripping The Whole Colorful World
Flor Y Nata
Available in the US and Canada through Rainbow Quartz Records

Gijon neo garage rockers The Shake are relatively unknown compared to other '60s inspired bands from Spain. Tripping The Whole Colorful World is a true gem of psychedelic '60s pop that's both melodic and basic at the same time. One hears a lot of Beatles For Sale on the album, but with stronger hints of psychedelic and a heavy soul base. This is a Wonderful find for anyone who loves '60s rock/soul and early psych. At the present time, their new album is complete but release is delayed for unknown reasons. Once you hear Tripping The Whole Colorful World, it will open up a new world. Let's hope we hear more from The Shake in 2009. Go here for their full review.

The Love Me Nots

Atomic A Go Go Records
Available in the US and Canada through Get Hip Distribution. Also available in "Farfisa Cream" Vinyl (inquire about availability before ordering)

The Love Me Nots are an ultimate combination of mod, surf, and cool. It's loud! Michael Johny Walker wails some seriously loud surf guitar, Nicole Laurienne packs a vocal dominance that will not only force people to listen, but will make you hang on her every word. Current band members Kyle Rose Stokes on bass and Vince Ramirez (former members Christina Nunez on bass and Jay Lien on drumes for the album recording) on drums round out a top notch combo that's perfect fuzz and farfisa go go, but much louder and tighter than expected. Jim Diamond at Detroit's legendary Ghetto Recorders puts in the knob duties that round out Detroit into an ultimate mod garage tome that's pure mod/surf/garage perfection. Additionally, they've turned down offers from popular garage rock labels in favor of controlling their own destiny, but that's no surprise once one hears them. They're too good to be held down. Check out the full review of Detroit here.

Los Peyotes

No Fun Records as well as Get Hip Distribution

Listening to Los Peyotes is as much fun as once could possibly have listenint to music. Although originally released in 2005, Cavernicola is now available for the first time in the US. Not only that, but it's available in vinyl and it's worth it just for the vintage type album cover. Los Peyotes are loud cavemen that wield surfy, loud garage rock in all its primitive glory. Not to be passed up.

Paul Collins Beat

Ribbon of Gold
Get Hip Recordings in the US and Canada

Great, simple, catchy songs that have their own voice and are instantly likeable created by a powerpop icon. Plenty of hints at brilliance from the guy who wrote "Hanging ON The Telephone" on "I Still Want You" and "She Doesn't Want To Hang Around With You", slices of jingle jangle Americana on the title track, and much more. There's no such thing as powerpop without Paul Collins Beat
Go Here for the full CD review.

Thee Vicars

Back On The Streets
Dirty Water Records
Available US and Canada through Get Hip Distribution

Thee Vicars are the undeniable truth of the statemaent "Look what you've created!" They're as much the bastard children of Pete Shelley as they are of Iggy Pop, Billy Childish, and '60s garage rock bands like The Chocolate Watchband. Heavy garage rock played through the brains of teenagers bent on playing loud and snotty. Thee Vicars will take over the world. Read all about them here.

The Ugly Beats

Take A Stand With
Get Hip Recordings

Austin's The Ugly Beats create an infectious mix of up and midtempo hits that lie somewhere inbetween the garage/powerpop forebearing sounds of the legendary Easybeats, some vintage surf, and the more subdued, melodic sounds of The Byrds and L.A. folk rock heroes Love. Take A Stand With is as close as one might get to real '60s rock and this band has made its mark on great rock 'n' roll for years to come. Go Here to meet Jason, Joe, Jeanine, Jake, and JSteve. With the great music in their veins and pouring out of them, it's no wonder that they're the darlings of Get Hip Recordings.

NOTE: Narrowing nearly 90 reviews down to ten was not an easy task. There are so many of you out there that I had the chance to listen to and write about. For those of you not on the list, I can't thank you enough for contributing, but if I name one, I'd have to name everyone and that's a very, very long list! For the most part, I've lived up to my goals. However, there are a few of you out there who I owe reviews to for this year, such as The Hosts, The Jungle Rockers, The Luxury Sweets, and a handful of others. I want to thank those of you not reviewed yet for your patience and understanding. I've written at least 2 reviews per week since I started reviewing in February. It's a hobby and I love doing it, but for a host of different reasons, not everyone got their say yet. This is it for 2008, but I'll have a month or so to catch up with everyone listed as well as some material from great artists that I've recently received. Starting in mid-February, the focus will shift to bands playing the 2009 South by Southwest Festival. The number of reviews I've done combined with those yet to be done is proof of what I've said all along: The Best rock 'n' roll is being made today! The Paisley Umbrella is here not only to spread the word about it, but to catch as many bands as possible and write about them since our information age produces such an overload that a lot of great things fall outside of people's radars. I hope many of you have discovered not only great new bands, but older ones that you might not have had a good listening to the first time around. I love writing about great rock 'n' roll and am lucky to have a growing number of readers and friends. I'm taking a well earned break until January. May you all have a Paisley/Psychedelic/Garage/Rock 'n' Roll, but most of all, a very Happy New Year!

Cheers and Thank You,

Michael from The Paisley Umbrella

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