Wednesday, December 29, 2004

so long, 2004 !

Once again it is nearly that time when we all get to buy a new day book - if you are organizationally inclined (which I can no longer claim to be, having left the day books behind oh so many years ago). It is always interesting to see everyone working away on their top tens and best ofs and all that guff. Here at Alien Girl we have chosen to ignore these time blocks as they just remind us once again of that horrible little record killer known as shelf life. We try our best to work without these short life spans guiding us. This is the one thing that really used to bum me out and I suppose still does. Going back to my record store days, I would all too often watch great albums arrive... POSSIBLY get rack space... sit for a few weeks until some "higher power" would finally pull the plug on the poor "no units moving" masterpieces at which time it MAYBE got moved to a side rack somewhere in the store and then, if nobody pushed it, back it went.

SO with this in mind I will try, over the next short while, to give you my best overlooked albums of the year and ONLY for the sake of entertainment. I just hate lumping records in with everything else that was released in that time period and thus imprisoning the work and then dismissing it at year end after which time it has no further chance of making the top anything list until one day when someone discovers it and blah blah blah. Just to kick this off let me put forth two or three just off the top of the old brainbox so you get the idea.

Let's start with the new John Cale record which has actually been out for so long that I am hard pressed to recall its release date but I DO know that it only came out in America a few short months ago. The release that appeared in Canada was a British import as I recall by the price of it and it briefly landed on the front rack of Sam's on Yonge (but what doesn't?). I had been eagerly awaiting this gem since first seeing the adds for the lead-off EP of "Things" - a radio hit that never was - in The Wire (when we could still afford the subscription). I was positive that the world would go nutty over a new John Cale. Aside from my own rabid fandom I am not sure why I imagined this scenario at all since previous records landed with a great THUD despite critical acclaim. Walking on Locusts was no great hit but a great record that did not translate into dollars. I suppose one could blame the inconsistent or at least confusing nature of Cale's career. Even fans are bound to favour one style or period over the other.

It seems that some programmers have finally taken notice of oh so dryly titled "Hobosapiens" and it has appeared on playlists such as WFMU and WOXY and PROBABLY KEXP though I have yet to see that in writing.

"Ancient" by Deep Dark United is another example of a record that I am convinced will eventually rise to the top but it was released late in the year and being a sleeper or creeper - whichever term you prefer - and being on a small "collective" label, it has thus far gone unnoticed even by many who will certainly love it as most people who I have passed it on to or played it for have. It can be found in interesting record stores across Canada I believe and is on the Blocks label. But did it make any lists, even locally? Not that I have seen.

The latest album by Japanese trip out prog folk anti-heroes Ghost seems to have slipped on through the cracks. A great sprawling double album's worth of beautiful music, "Hypnotic Underworld" stands as one of the finest releases this year. Despite lots of press (mostly positive) this one, too has seemingly disappeared from the public memory.

Oh, what a funny business this is. Well, more on this later. Gotta put on my thinking cap and check a few release dates since time has ceased to mean much to me, lately - but stay tuned. I will re-visit this topic very soon. Maybe tonight.

Steve K


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