Today, the rest of my 10 best will be revealed. The envelope please …
6. Meat Puppets – Rise to Your Knees (Anodyne Records) – Moody and gorgeously textured, Rise to Your Knees is dark, desert psychedelia for cowboys with a taste for mescaline. The strange, wonderful imagination of Curt Kirkwood is still working overtime.
7. Love – Blue Thumb Recordings (www.Hip-OSelect.com) – More confirmation of Arthur Lee’s genius, the Blue Thumb Recordings empty the vaults of Love’s post-Forever Changes, lost psych-pop glory. There’s incredible variety here, a little bit of folk, some freewheeling rock and a whole lot of gorgeous, sometimes loony, melodies Lee must bought from the devil. It was a bargain.
8. Maps – We Can Create (Mute, www.mute.com) – A space-pop epic, wildly ambitious and otherworldly, Maps’ We Can Create is an amalgam of breathy, electronic cool and psychedelic radiance. It’s Spiritualized, My Bloody Valentine and Moby all floating in the milky way, creating sonic architecture that’s huge, smooth and glassy, but never boring.
9. John Phillips – Jack Of Diamonds (Varese Sarabande) – It’s not folk, but Jack Of Diamonds proves that Phillips could move beyond the acoustic ghetto to create beautiful, timeless music that defied categories. Country, rock, folk and even the blues influence his songwriting, but in Phillips’ hands, they’re mere tools used to shape and paint his highly textured, wind-blown pieces. A collection of lost recordings that should have seen the light of day in their time.
10. John Doe – A Year In The Wilderness (Yep Roc, www.yeproc.com) – Handsome rascal that John Doe, sort of a Paul Newman for the punk set, and like Newman, Doe has a body of work few artists can match. Tough, world-wise duets with Kathleen Edwards highlight the set, but the grit and realism of Doe’s songwriting is felt throughout and provides the edge to burnished melodies that would shine like gold if not for the hard life they’ve lived.