The Final Countdown – Top Ten Music Releases as The Ball Drops

| December 31, 2014

It’s down to the wire! Just back in Houston from a (12-hour long visit) trip all the way down to the Borderland and glad to be stationary again. High winds and rain there, and rain here mean taking a fly rod anywhere would have been a complete waste of travel space. And it appears the rain will be moving back into the Houston area again for New Year’s day and through Saturday. Time to pack it in and head for the house.


On the way home you can bet I will be listening to these last five CDs a lot. They’re the five best I could find to match my definition of good music that doesn’t stretch the ear too far one way or the other. Being on the road slowed this final post of 2014 down significantly, but I am happy to bring this one to you as old man 2014 breathes his last breaths.

Spoon – “They Want My Soul”

It’s another short release, but one with sounds (yes owed in huge part to the Beatles) that are fresh and at the same time leave the listener with a good dose of feel-good once it’s done. “They Want My Soul” is from the Austin band Spoon, and marks their eighth release as they celebrated a twenty-one year life span in 2014. Their previous release “Transference” was a strong release, but by my ears this is their best release. Mature and deeply rooted music certainly helps me form that opinion.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – “Hypnotic Eye”

It’s hard to imagine the great musicians, like Dylan, Springsteen or Petty continuing to lament the common man’s material, moral and spiritual losses since our Great Depression (Recession), but this release still has an ear to what’s going on in the real world. It should’ve placed higher, but this (again) was a tough year. If you haven’t heard a note, try listening to “American Dream Plan B,” or “Forgotten Man.” Perfection.

Old 97’s – “Most Messed Up”

Another band that has Denton roots, less than six degrees of separation from my life, and a fantastic discography over the last twenty-one years. There must’ve been something in the Texas water way back in 1993! If you want to know about those degrees of separation sometime, just ask. The music is raucous and absolutely about the party life. “Let’s Get Drunk & Get It On,” and “Wasted” give you an idea – right up front – of what the CD is about. Throw in some Denton references in the lyrics, and slap the CD with one of those PARENTAL DISCRETION stickers and we have a fantastic release.

Centro-Matic – “Take Pride In Your Long Odds”

It’s the swan song for Denton band Centro-Matic. They did three straight nights this month at Dan’s Silver Leaf, and they’re done. But before they called it, they released their most accessible and probably successful CD ever. Talk about going out on top? This is it. I will miss this band, who never misses my Top Ten with their releases, but hope something even bigger is brewing. We are getting down to the needle point now, and without a doubt “Take Pride” is one you want to own. “Academy of Lunkers” is a good listen, and the reference to Bonnie Brae (a street) and McKenna Park (a block away from me) make that one stick. “Cross Paths” is another song … easy listening for Centro-Matic … that could give you an idea of just how good these guys are were. Observant and timely.

The New Basement Tapes – “Lost On The River”

About the only thing that could end up at the top of such a great year’s music would be a release by a supergroup, right? How about we take Elvis Costello, Jim James (MMJ), Marcus Mumford, Taylor Goldsmith and Rhiannon Giddens; put them together with some dormant Bob Dylan lyrics-poems, T Bone Burnett and see what we get? The number one pick for 2014 for starters! Not only do you want the CD, you’ll want to see the “documentary” on the making of this CD. I have to use “” because I am still confused as to whether some of the scenes of Dylan at the Big Pink are recreated or real. No matter what, this is a fantastic CD. And the Dylan Basement Tapes just came out, so there’s no time to give it a spin (and is disqualified from the TFC Top 10 anyway). I’ll just name one song, “Lost on the River #20.” Try to get past that without clicking on the Amazon Buy button.

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Category: Complimentary Reading, Culture on the Skids, Life Observed, Music

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