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Best of 2018: Kelly's Top 5 Picks

Posted by Kells, December 31, 2018 03:35pm | Post a Comment
It's that time of year again—the end! But before I dive into my five faves of 2018, I'd like to briefly salute Destiny's Child Kelly Rowland's new single "Kelly" for adding some much needed beef to the existing "Kelly" songs menu. It's a shameless strut of an anthem that blows the hatches off Air's sweetly space-crafted "Kelly Watch the Stars" and stomps the throat of Woody from Cheers' dopey "The Kelly Song". But for all it's sass (and "ass"), Rowland's "Kelly" can't surpass the scandalous charm of Del Shannon's wistfully two-timing "Kelly", not by my reckoning anyway. That's just this Kelly's opinion though, and, no matter what, it is good to know that that Kelly's "got flex", et cetera. In other words, i.e. her own words, "go Kelly go—go, go Kelly go"! 
 
Read on for more of this Kelly's opinions re: top five records of 2018, it's been one helluva year...


BEST DAMN RECORD
Dick Stusso - In Heaven
(Hardly Art)

I don't know who Dick Stusso is, but I'm convinced he's got it all figured out. His tight yet loose roadhouse-rock sound is so right, with heavenly guitar tones and twangy saloon piano interludes that sway and swagger over close-carpeted rhythms and far away vocals so in your face and from the gut it sometimes feels like an arm creeping 'round your shoulder to give you a sip and questionable life tips. Maybe it's too easy to say Stusso's got a little bit country of a rock'n roll thing going on, but that's a good place to start. Also, I don't really want to get political here, but anyone remember that time before the 2017 inauguration when folks were saying stuff like the incoming administration would make Punk great again? This review has nothing to do with that exactly, but as far as present times fostering better modern music goes, Dick Stusso’s In Heaven achieves the level of excellence I’ve been waiting for in terms of any silly "great again" shorthand beckoning a means to a musical renaissance, or something similar. Cue title and final track on the record for a come down fitting for a new year and a new you; may the things you like always last...






MOST ESSENTIAL COLLECTION
Various Artists
- Technicolor Paradise: Rhum Rhapsodies & Other Exotic Delights
(Numero Group)

Leave it to the tireless diggers at Numero Group to unearth and lovingly compile a buy-or-die collection of musty, dusty,  mid-century musical curios from the tiki craze heyday. This 3LP
 box set of deep Exotica, Jazz, Surf and other tropical novelties is easily the most crucial release of the year by my reckoning. With so many standout tracks and impressive behind-the-music research packed into it, I'd be hard pressed to highlight any way in which this label has not outdone themselves (yet again) with this project. Make mine a triple!




MOST INSPIRED RECORD
Cold Beat
- A Simple Reflection
(Dark Entries)

Sometimes the best obsessions come from flipping through records (an obsession in and of itself). This dreamy 7-song collection of Eurythmics covers began when Cold Beat front-woman Hannah Lew came across the Eurythmics' early works while digging through a bin of 12"s,
sparking an obsession that crystallized into A Simple Reflection. With tracks plucked from the Eurythmics' early b-sides, their In the Garden debut, and Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) follow-up, Cold Beat's reimaginings sound as fresh and organic as they play faithful to the original material, their synths and rhythms seemingly maintaining the bands' overall sonic trajectory while likely informing new directions to come. As always, Lew's high level of aesthetic taste is on display, this time exhibited playfully on the cover in a series of Annie Lennox-inspired looks.

Speaking of inspired looks, and given that songs from A Simple Reflection were featured in Moschino's Spring/Summer 2019 fashion show(!), I was thinking to button up this blurb by including show footage backed by Cold Beat's version of "Love is a Stranger", especially considering its lyric that delivers the word "obsession" so deliciously. However, because 2018 may be remembered as a peak year for RuPaul's Drag Race, what with the debut of season 10, seasons 3 and 4 of All Stars, and the "Holi-Slay Spectacular", I've to go with the show opener video featuring "Never Gonna Cry Again" and champion Ru girl Violet Chachki both on the runway and in the air! Feast your eyes and ears:

Digging Numero Group's Solid Bronze

Posted by Kells, May 2, 2012 11:16pm | Post a Comment
This year, as with every year since 2008, Record Store Day was a huge success. My mind still boggles at the shear scope and breadth of this years' list of limited Record Store Day releases and I think it's safe to say there really was a something-for-everyone vibe to the offerings made available this go 'round. Yet there be a fair amount of slept-on nuggets still glistening in the stream and perhaps none of them more deserving of a mining undiscovered ore metaphor than the mellow moods latent in yet another stellar comp from the smithies of smooth at Numero Group, the same folks who hit it outta the park last year with a double LP sister compilation to their Boddie Recording Company box set. What makes this Record Store Day remainder so friggin' essential is, well, as one Amoebite put it, "think AM Gold meets modern soul meets yacht rock...with a glass of boxed wine and a joint full of shitty weed."

Think WTNG 89.9FM: Solid Bronze!
Honestly, I can't think of any better description of this light 'n easy mix than that offered by the Numero Group folks themselves, who had me at "Fans of the Dans -- Folgelberg, Steely, Seals and Hill -- this is your Numero record." An essential slice of delightfully less filling (tastes great!) soft rock chipped from Record Store Day treasure fissure, snatch yours up before they become a fabled piece of RSD history.

Take the plunge with this self-explanatory yet somewhat puzzling video for Archie James Cavanaugh's blue-eyed soul meets disco Beach Music jam "Take It Easy" -- a standout number among a comp comprised of freshly exhumed singular sensations.


Here's the story behind the magic from the Numero Group website: