Fly Fishing Music – Top 5 For 2015

| January 1, 2016





In at number five is a band that combines the force of Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys with the musicians from The Arcs, and what you get is a disc that, as I hear it now, could have been placed a lot closer to the number one spot. My goal, though, is to expose readers who listen to sounds that take them somewhere other than where they’ve been before. So it sits at Number 5.


The release by Tweedy is a dead giveaway, with Jeff and son Spencer banging the skins on the disc “Sukierae.” You’re detecting bias that I cannot deny! Even if I felt duped by Wilco, and their years of retracing the Beatles “White Album,” all is forgiven here. In my own defense, you’ll realize Wilco’s release this year did not make the Top 10. That release sounded a bit like Wilco doing Wilco. It just didn’t ring true. “Sukierae” rings true, and we can only hope we have a new Tweedy to eventually, in his own time, step out of the shadow and step up. I am guessing a few females will be falling in love with a drummer.


Los Lobos “Gates of Gold” is easily Number Three this year. I toyed around with it at the one spot until it got down to the last run through. These are musicians who have four decades under their belts, and are flexing their musicianship on this release. This is a fantastic disc because your expectations of Los Lobos will be totally blown by “Gates of Gold.” It rocks hard, it sounds like Los Lobos, it’s jazz and it’s Mexican roots. I get the feeling they had to whittle this one down to get to one disc. I’d take three of these if it were possible. Plug this in and head for the border (I am in January!).


This is surprisingly easy as we slide into the Number Two spot. None other than a Will Johnson solo release “Swan City Vampires.” Yes, the videos by him and his other personalities are weird, but in reality, he and his videos, and his art are a perfect representation of the Denton, Texas, I have known all these years. This Lynch-onian subterranean life is all around us here in Denton, and has been for decades. If it haunts you, that’s okay. If it takes you off the streets at 2-am, that’s okay. These are the sounds we hear coming from houses in just about all (working class) neighborhoods in Denton. Maybe after forty-plus years of intense music seeking and listening I worked my way into this sound? It could easily have been Number One, but I went sentimental (in the Number One spot) after the year I’ve had.


Every time I see James McMurtry, he seems a little happier than the last (in his onstage presence), more comfortable in his skin perhaps. I hope that’s a good thing. Regardless of his early reputation, which I know has alienated a lot of fans, his writing ability leaves everyone else writing (with care for writing) in the rear view mirror – and now fading fast. And I am not making any exceptions for any lyricist alive today. “Complicated Game” is simple really. McMurtry has stripped down to a more acoustic sound for this release, and takes us on a geographic trip from right here in Texas, to Long Island to South Dakota. Listen to the lyrics and you will believe one of two things; either McMurtry has an extraordinarily vivid imagination, or he’s actually been to these places … and gleaned deeply.

“Honey don’t you be yelling at me when I’m cleaning my gun.
I’ll wash the blood off the tailgate when deer season’s done.
We’ve got one more weekend to go
and I’d sure like to kill one more doe.” – Copper Cantene from Complicated Game

One tune, the last, “Cutter” seems wildly out of place, and tacked onto this disc. It is as dark as anything I have ever come across, but maybe it’s a foreshadowing of where he’s taking us next. Make no mistake, Complicated Game will take you from wherever you are to where McMurtry wants you to be. This release could cause you to backtrack and listen to a lot more of James’ music.

NOTE – Catch Will Johnson live at Dan’s Silver Leaf in Denton,Texas, January 7, 2016.

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Category: Culture on the Skids, Music

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