DO LOOK BACK

THE YEAR IN MUSIC: IT JUST DIDN'T GET MUCH BETTER (OR WORSE) THAN THIS

4. Redd Kross, Phaseshifter. One night, I drank beer and ate this powdered candy named "Spew" and played this album for a friend. Though I later vomited because of the candy, the album was great.

5. Babes in Toyland, "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft." From the If I Were a Carpenter tribute album. Sung with all the passion and commitment one usually reserves for "The Star-Spangled Banner." 6. Giant Sand, Glum. Even the album cover, by Tucson portrait artist Robyn Stoutenburg, is worth the price of admission.

7. Counting Crows. That damn "Mr. Jones" song, to be specific; I was so in love with this when I first heard it on the radio that I ran out and bought it at a Wal-Mart. The album completely sucked, and I sold it to Zia Record Exchange in record time. Good single, though.

8. KUKQ-AM 1060. The return of this alternative station made local radio intelligent again. The music is swell, but a major attraction is the normalcy of the deejays--real people with real personalities and real names. No inane babblings from characters like "Whipping Boy," "Artie the Milkman" and "Willobee"--heard on the Q's competitor, KEDJ-FM 106.3--to distract from the music. 9. Grant Lee Buffalo, "Mockingbirds." This song is supposedly a twisted reassembly of an annoying Seventies single by James Taylor, but it still somehow sounds wonderfully Beatlesque.

10. Green Day, "Longview." Any song that includes the profound sense of loss one feels when faced with the realization that self-stimulation may not always be spiritually and physically satisfying is okay in my book.

Larry Crowley
New Times contributor. Larry reviews the year, comments frankly and even dares to make wishes for country music of the future:

1. Wynonna. Used to tell whoever'd listen that this girl would bloom once Mom Naomi let her immensely talented daughter be. Was dead wrong: Mom's writing, spot-on harmonies and steadying presence made the Judds what they were. Suffering from lack of decent material and an apparent yen for candied yams, the best country gal singer since Patsy Cline needs Mommy back onstage.

2. Reba McEntire. I always thought Reba was overrated--that her vocal acrobatics and good-ol'-girl, corn-pone patter were contrived, that her recordings reflected trends of demographics rather than any attempt at art, that her product was generally putrid--and I was right. Yuck. Go away, Reba.

3. Toby Keith. Those who saw this fella recently at Bill Bachand's award-winning nightclub heard a gifted singer-songwriter with a career bullet absolutely captivate an always-tough Toolies Country crowd. Dang--I shoulda been a cowboy. We want mo'.

4. Merle Haggard and George Jones. Nashville has managed to paint itself into a creative corner. A decadelong reliance on a narrow--if lucrative--range of acceptable product and an absolute shunning of anything remotely traditional worked as long as the MOR masses accepted such Music City mediocrity. But now the tide is turning; lookit all the old-timers the power-wielding leisure suits behind the Pine Curtain are trotting out. Thank Godamighty, and welcome back--especially to these two fellas, the newest darlings of Nineties Nashville. May the trend continue.

5. Billy Ray Cyrus. We're sure you saved a whole bunch of money from that awful "Achy Breaky Heart" thing. Consider it a lottery hit: Buy a little tavern with a tiny little stage somewhere not in Nashville. Maybe near a lake: Then you can get a big bass boat and fish yourself silly all day, then repair to your bar and sing that damn song all night. Just stay away from Nashville.

6. Dwight Yoakam. Sure, ex-girlfriend Sharon Stone said that she'd rather "eat a dirt sandwich" than reconcile with Buck Owens' buddy, but what Dwight might have lacked in romance, he more than made up for in wax. An innovator and modern-day outlaw who turns out the freshest stuff either side of Austin.

7. Branson, Missouri. Once a charming, little-known country-music mountain resort with generations-old family acts entertaining Ozark Mountain visitors, Branson is now the absolute ugliest of tourist traps--the place where old country singers build monuments to themselves and go to die. Don't encourage them, please. Go to Dollywood instead.

8. Randy Travis. Nashville has pretty much given him the bum's rush, ugly rumors persist about his personal life and there's a whole industry full of success stories out there who owe him for everything they've got. So why doesn't Travis get any credit? May 1995 treat the man better.

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