We’ve all heard the saying “everyone has a breaking point,” a point where they are mad as hell and don’t want to take it anymore. I spent most of my life without ever reaching my breaking point. It was good while it lasted, but in the midst of one of the worst snowstorms NYC has ever seen, it happened. Not because the streets weren’t being plowed or because I was having impure thoughts about Janice Huff while she recapped the blizzard like it was a sporting event. It had to do with a Music Industry “year end best of list.”
Year end best of lists irritate me. I skim them with less then a grain. I love when a music writer sorts through the trash for me, (you know who you are), others leave me scratching my head, (you know who you are) and then there are writers who seem to me to be drinking too much eggnog with record labels publicists. (Do you know who you are?). As I read list after list that has neglected great albums or songs of 2010, I shrugged as I always do. When I saw that a few jackasses had Kings of Leon on their lists, a little steam built up inside of me. I assumed the bands record label gave that writer seats next to a model who was told to pay attention to him or her. There’s no reason to ever include Kings of Leon on any best of list. Even if the label set me up with Adrianna Lima, I just don’t think I could follow through with adding Kings of Leon to even the bottom of the list. I just couldn’t take the dive.
When I read that someone remotely respectable ranked Pete Yorn’s album as the 3rd best of the year, I opened my front door and enough fire billowed from my lungs that it cleared out all of the snow in my driveway. Pete Yorn? Is this guy kidding? The only way somebody puts Pete Yorn on a best of list, is if their hoping one of Pete’s Hollywood brothers will hook them up with another story. Let’s be realistic, when dissecting Pete’s career, it’s appears as if his brothers have stopped helping him. So music critics… why bother?
I need to right this wrong. Clark Kent runs for a phone booth, I ran for a listening booth. I started thinking of all of the great music from 2010 and then remembered all of the local unsigned music this past year. So much of it is more note worthy than Pete Yorn or Kings of Leon.
Where would I begin? Where would I stop? I decided to make it close to the length of a 90 minute cassette tape, like the one you’d make for your crush in homeroom or one you made for your lover as he or she left for college. Do the math people! Kings of Leon have released 5 Albums, 61 songs, 6 of which I think are good for a batting average of .098, which for those of you who don’t know baseball, that’s pretty crappy. Pete Yorn has released 6 albums, 72 songs, 3 of which I think are good which is a batting average of .041, and for those of you scoring at home is crappier than Kings of Leon.
I’m giving you 23 free songs for download by local NYC area artists who aren’t on labels. In most cases you’ve never heard of them, yet I believe that all of these songs are more inspiring than anything by Kings of Leon or Pete Yorn. I realize that I have set the bar low and I know that if you only dig 3 out of these 24 songs, it’s a higher average than their combined .088 batting average. I do believe you’ll dig these songs
I’ve listed the songs in alphabetical order by title, they are not ranked. The songs are all by local unsigned acts, some unsigned by choice, some just getting started, some probably will be signed by the time my next year’s list comes out, IF Labels still exist. It really doesn’t matter, it’s all good..and there are obviously more I wasn’t able to include unfortunately. Accordingly, this is NOT a best of list, it’s just a list of really great songs.
For a more in depth discussion on my dispassion for Kings Of Leon and or Pete Yorn tweet @DJrichrusso
you can click them to stream the track (downloads disabled on march 1, 2011, stream still activated)
Baby You’re Too Young DES ROAR (from Brooklyn, one of the catchiest songs of the year)
Bullet STEEL TRAIN (New Jersey, they broke the chains of the their record deal and self released their best album to date and this is the single)
California Girls (Ain’t So Great) ANTHONY D’AMATO (Princeton NJ, I’m sure Brian Wilson and Katy Perry will have a fit when they hear this gem bashing the Girls of Cali)
Don’t Tell Me THERINA BELLA and the TERRIBLE GIRLS (Staten Island, I once stated on my show that Staten Island might have more musical diversity than the other boroughs combined, this is the first of 5 staten island songs on the list, this is the pop genre)
Eddie Said AVON JUNKIES F/ARIES (Staten Island, this is the Ska Genre)
Effigy URGE OVERKILL (Chicago, oops this ain’t local, but who cares, the first new Urge song in like 15 years and they self released it and it kicks ass!)
Favorite Day BESS ROGERS (Long Island, this is my favorite song of the aptly titled Bess Rogers presents Bess Rogers ep)
Fractured 68AD (New Jersey, classic Jersey rock and lyrics about a love gone wrong)
Garbage Man THE SECONDS (Staten Island, Garage Rock genre with one of the great lyrics ever “society hates a street scholar”)
Holy Ghost Town A MILLION YEARS (Brooklyn, actually Brooklyn was a ghost town when these guys were kids, and they are all born and bred there, a true rarity and a great band)
In your street today THE STALKERS (NYC. The lead singer is named Andy Animal, nuff said)
It Goes Like That BERN AND THE BRIGHTS (Montclair NJ, the jersey scene is as vibrant as it’s ever been and this is one of the bands leading the way)
New York City is a Drug (kahne) DIRTY PEARLS (NYC, the mothership of all NYC bands right now, with the first NYC anthem that’s mattered in the last 20 years, and oh yeah, David Kahne produced it)
One More Night to Rock SOUTHSIDE JOHNNY and ASBURY JUKES (Asbury Park, NJ One of the holy trinity of Jersey rock who continues to pack them in and self release great material)
Pix LES VINYL (Staten Island, this would fall under the cerebral rock genre)
Pullin’ Shapes THEODORE GRIMM (Nutley NJ, there ain’t nothing Grim about these guys)
Sidewalk Queen WYLDLIFE (Westchester NY, it’s the NY Dolls meet the Ramones, meet the sex pistols if there’s such a thing, pretty amazing considering not one member of this band was alive when those bands had their heyday)
Someday you’ll be a Star MAX IS KING (NYC, Nick Fowler on lead vocals is the best pure voice in NYC right now, and Artie the guitar player ain’t too shabby either)
Suddenly Saturday (acoustic) OUTSIDE THE BOX (Lavalette NJ, you know a band is good when their acoustic demo of a song is good enough for a list like this)
Suicide ink STRAWBERRY JAM (Elizabeth NJ, yes Elizabeth NJ of all places, who knew the city I was born in and lived in for the first 6 months of my life would spawn some great rock and roll)
The End JOHN WESLEY HARDING (Brooklyn, kinda sorta, Wes is originally from England, now lives in Philly, but did live in Brooklyn the last few years, and he’s great and under-appreciated, it’s my list and my rules!)
Tragic (Just Like Me) PLASTIQ PASSION (Staten Island, Jersey City, Brooklyn, All girl new wave band and it doesn’t get cooler than this)
So there you have it 23 songs, all unsigned at the moment, all with either self releases, or demos and all local (well, almost all local)
Hope you enjoyed it and will do so for years to come, listen to it a few times as a body of work, while in your car, at the gym or even at a Pete Yorn or Kings of Leon show if you get dragged to one.
Happy New Year