Top 11 Songs of 2005
The top 11 songs of 2005 from my own skewed perspective
A popular conversation from the film Spinal Tap goes:
Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.
To top off my first year in Duluth and learning about the local bands I have assembled my own personal list of the best Duluth songs from 2005. The criteria for selection was that I had to hear the album from November of 2004 through December 2005. New material is excluded, but this is only a taste of what the local community of musicians have to offer. This New Years go out and see something a bit different, treat yourself to some local music that is better than what you see or hear from the National acts. My list is better than any other as it goes to 11; it has that one extra song to set it over when you need it.
11. Song: “Die Cracker Die”, Band: Vinny & the Barroom Standoff, Album: Vinny & the Barroom Standoff
A slow intro is accosted by fast paced guitar licks. A whirling dervish of sound spinning and moshing into the new millennium. Shake and hop into this retrofitted syrup laden tune. The bass plays with the guitar and plucks the song hard. Imagine 1950s greasers being kicked in the head by a combat boot of new fast paced rock. www.barroomstandoff.com
10. Song: “School Revisited”, Band: The Alrights, Album: High School
This song is at the end of The Alrights CD and is a diamond in the rough. An acoustic number about Toby Churchill’s father, it is haunting and simplistically deep. At under a minute in length the trick is to play the song on repeat and marvel at how it plays flawlessly. Toby talks about seeing his late father in a dream, but he is not convinced it is really him. Think of a little ditty from Abby Road that makes the album complete and forces you to start it over again. Next Show: New Years Eve @ The Reef Bar (www.thealrights.com)
9. Song: “ Minnesota Song”, Band: Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank, Album: Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank
Finger pickin’ good, this song gets things moving. Teague Alexy sings, “Out there inMinnesota, where the hell is Minnesota?” Youthfully hopeful, the song has intricate melodies rolling across the railroad tracks of Minnesota. Teague told me about his brother’s song saying, “Ian wrote it within his first few weeks after moving toMinnesota. Erik Berry (Trampled By Turtles) joined the Hobos on mandolin and the song was produced, arranged, and recorded by The Hobo Nephews.” The lyrics tell Ian’s story, “I'm leaving the east coast cause it's crazy there, but I'm gonna miss you darlin' and your mid length brown hair. My car will only go one way then fall apart, but you have my thoughts and my carpenters heart - and I wish I would have built you that house that you wanted - with kids runnin' round and a back porch on it - but I'm too young to think that way - I'll be an adolescent boy for another day - somewhere in Minnesota - out there in Minnesota - where the hell is Minnesota - I don't believe that I've known her” Next Show: 1/27/2006 Beaner’s Central (www.teaguealexy.com)
8. Song: “Hobos in the Roundhouse”, Band: Bill Isles, Album: The Calling
Bill explains the song, "My grandfather, August, was a railroad roundhouse mechanic in Virginia, MN. He risked his job during the depression by letting hobos sleep indoors while he was on the midnight shift." The heart of the song is when August has a moment of doubt and Bill sings, "I asked my Savior, 'What should I do? If I'm caught helping hobos my job could be through.' And I heard my answer, so clear and so bright, 'Are there hobos sleeping in your roundhouse tonight?'" Meaning that sometimes we need to go by conscience rather than follow orders. We don't get much reaffirmation of that these days. Bill Isles is an artist of life and his genuineness comes out in his songwriting. Next Show: New Years Day @ Sir Ben’s 7:00 PM (www.billisles.com)
7. Song: “She’s So Fine”, Band: Boku Frequency, Album: Boku Frequency
This song is funky and kicked off Boku’s debut album. Staccato guitar compliments Tony on Drums beat for beat. Midway through the song Tony also breaks out into some rapping that is from an earlier era. A “Rapper’s Delight” tone to the song gives it great appeal, and he sings, “When we step on the stage we’re filled with rage – We’re like a fine wine that gets better with age.” It’s an early hit for Boku and lets the band have some fun. Next Show: New Years Day @ The Red Lion (www.myspace.com/bokufrequency)
6. Song: “Dirty Old Man”, Band: The Electras, Album: Duluth Rocked Vol. 1(60’s Smash Hits
Back in 1966 Earl Bulinski (Guitar), Tim Elfving (Lead Vocals), Jerry Fink (Drums), and Gary Omerza (Bass/Organ) wrote some Duluth psychedelia. Their song “Dirty Old Man” talks of the lament of a young man losing a girl to the older rich guy. Tim sings, “He’s nothin’ but a freewheelin’, girl stealin’ dirty old man.” This is accentuated by aHammond sounding organ with long held out notes, a surfer's “Rolling Stone” perhaps. The psychedelic timing, snaky guitar, and little added sound effects round the song out. In the end they sing, “Dirty old man why can’t you face the truth, your money can’t buy you back your youth.” These teeny boppers are the dirty old men today, I wonder if they feel the same way? (www.duluthrocked.com)
5. Song: “Bar Room Stool”, Band: Jim Hall, Album: Under A Broken Sky
The song opens with a Ray Charles country twang and then settles into something original very quickly. When Jim plucks the acoustic he has the precision of a jeweler. In the main chorus of the song he sings about wanting to get up to the bar stool so he can get a drink (and get intoxicated). Many times we are stuck waiting to get served at the bar, this ditty makes the wait seem validated.
4. Song: “Codeine”, Band: Trampled By Turtles, Album: Blue Sky And The Devil
Trampled By Turtles are the kings of folk music. Their tune “Codeine” on their new album is a nice ditty about pain reliever love. Dave sings, “Codeine, your the nicest thing I’ve ever seen - for awhile - You hold my hand as I step into the room - All these people will be fading soon.” Mosh-pit bluegrass made for twirling around in patchwork skirts and shoeless feet. Next Show: 1/5/2005 Papa Charlie’s Snowball (Lutsen), 1/27/2006 Mitchell Auditorium, College of St. Scholastica 7pm opening for Monroe Crossing (www.trampledbyturtles.com)
3. Song: “Whiskey So Soft”, Band: The Little Black Books, Album: Only One Name (In My Little Black Book)
Showcasing how a band can mix a Lou Reed sound with punk and rock influences, this song is a great tune to get into. Mark Lindquist sings in the chorus, “Whiskey so soft, my headphones are on, and the lights are off.” He also screams on the guitar and tears into the song like a lion into a gazelle. Chunk bangs away on the drums and there is almost a séance with the classics while smashing popular conception of what guitar punk rock is. Mark told me the story of the song saying, “I remember writing most of it in my head falling asleep on my couch with the headphones on, which I seem to do all the time at the wee hours. I was smart enough to jot down the lyrics before I fell asleep because I thought they were sort of funny and fun to sing. The song went a couple different directions before we got it on tape. I think chunk just really sped it up and it seemed to fit. Bob's solo and some of the background vocals were total mistakes in overdubs that sounded cool to me and I thought that it would sound right if somebody was drinking whiskey late at night at home with the lights off and their headphones on. Kevin recorded it in the apartment above big lake bookstore.” The Little Black Books are currently working on another album to be released this spring. Expect them to be number one around this town very soon. Next Show: NEW YEARS EVE @ PIZZA LUCE’ (www.littleblackbooksmusic.com)
2. Song: “Drunk In Duluth”, Band: White Iron Band, Album: Take It Off The Top
This song is the tip of an iceberg of Duluth music floating around. The tune begins by Matt Pudas singing, “Well the wind blows cold off the lake at night and it chills my back to the bone. When the bus rolls in I sit back and grin, feelin’ a little bit stoned. I’ve busted up stalls, threw bottles at walls, and frankly got out of control.” He actually has done these things at the Tap Room. In verse two of the song Matt sings, “Well the people up here are crazy as hell, I guess you can say that’s my style. And the women are pretty as pretty can be, they always greet me with a smile… And the liquor it flows, as the evening it goes, and a smile gets stuck on my face - one more round till I hit the ground, MAN I LOVE THIS PLACE! Drunk in Duluth, I sure get drunk in Duluth. Give me some whiskey and I’ll tell you the truth.” For the bluegrass moshers TBT and White Iron Band play Roy Wilkins Auditorium in Minneapolis for New Years Eve. Next Show: 1/5/2005 Papa Charlie’s (Lutsen) Snowball (www.whiteironband.com)
1. Song: “Heaven Sends Her Regards”, Band: The Alrights, Album: High School
A great song touched by heaven’s harp and Prince’s voice. Imagine Prince singing with the Strokes playing behind him, now launch John Lennon’s piano into the sky and let it ride the chorus. You now have a picture of the contemplation and revelation that this catchy ditty has about questioning of faith. Toby says, “It’s not written from a formal religious standpoint, but more of just a silly tune.. A guy in heaven is telling people down here on earth what heaven is like. You learn that you get to go to heaven and so does anyone else… It isn’t about belief or faith.” This song also features a great Cello in the background played by Ed Willet and inspired by John Lennon and the Beatles through the mind of Toby. It also won a radio contest out of Florida this past summer and has led to them being signed by an indie label out of New York. Next Show: NEW YEARS EVE @ THE REEF BAR ( www.thealrights.com)