3 Minute Record

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3 Minute Record presents the Best Albums of 2012

Today, it's time to share with our readers the 3 Minute Record Best Albums of 2012. Yesterday, we posted our first podcast in which we talked about our favorite albums of this year. In case you missed it, due to all the holiday food filling up your belly, please do us a favor be sure to check it out! (To download: Right Click (PC)/CTRL-Click (Mac) and then select Save Link As….)

Tonight, our staff will do our very best to spin many of these records and much more at The Royale from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. We hope you can join us for a pint or two at our favorite corner watering hole and listen to some of our favorite music from this year. Please - as the sign above indicates - just don't sit at the back table at 10 p.m.

So, without further pomp and circumstance here is our list. Enjoy!

Best of 2012

Bart

Lucero - Women and Work (ATO)
Hot Water Music - Exister (Rise)
Cory Branan - Mutt (Bloodshot)
Craig Finn - Clear Heart Full Eyes (Full Time Hobby)
Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten (Mercury)

Jeff

Japandroids - Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)
Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls (ATO)
White Rabbits - Milk Famous (TBD)
Minus The Bear - Infinity Overhead (Dangerbird)
Blake Fleming - Time's Up (self-released)

Reissues: My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (1991 Creation / 2012 Sony)
Shiner - The Egg (2001 DeSoto / 2012 Son Of Man)
Archers Of Loaf - Vee Vee (1995 Alias / 2012 Merge)
Sugar - Copper Blue (1992 Ryko / 2012 Merge)
Codeine – Barely Real EP (1992 Sub Pop / 2012 The Numero Group)

Lauren

Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory (Carpark)
Wanda Jackson - Unfinished Business (Sugar Hill)
Make Do and Mend - Everything You Ever Loved (Rise)
The Menzingers - On the Impossible Past (Epitaph)
Japandroids - Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)

Scott

Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball (Columbia)
Cat Power - Sun (Matador)
Sharon Van Etten - Tramp (Jagjaguwar)
Bobby Womack - The Bravest Man In The Universe (XL Recordings)
Heartless Bastards - Arrow (Partisan Records)

Reissues: R.E.M. - Document [25th Anniversary Edition] (1987 I.R.S. / 2012 Capitol)
Peter Gabriel - So [25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition] (1986 Geffen / 2012 Real World Productions)
The Velvet Underground & Nico - S/T [45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition] (1967 Verve / 2012 Polydor/UME)
Ryan Adams - Life After Deaf [Live Boxset] (PAXAM)
Cotton Mather - Kontiki (1997 Copper Records / 2012 Star Apple Kingdom)

Finally, feel free to take a look back at our 2011 Lists here - Bart / Jeff / Scott

Part of something big: How Uncle Tupelo shaped the musical landscape [Recollection]

By Robin Wheeler 

My name is nothing extra, but the truth to you I tell. I am a coal miner and I'm sure I wish you well - "Coalminers" by Uncle Tupelo

I remember the first time I heard of Uncle Tupelo. Freshman year at the University of Missouri in the autumn of 1991, sitting in my dorm room with an old friend from my tiny hometown, listening to him bitch because the skirt he was chasing was making him go to an Uncle Tupelo show.

"I hate that country shit," he snarled.

Two months earlier, I would have said the same thing. Growing up in rural west-central Missouri, country music's de rigueur, and we had both had our fill. Making a rural escape with Nirvana and Pearl Jam as the soundtrack, there was no excuse to ever hear another word sung about the working class, whiskey bottles, and coal.

Except that's what I wanted.

I blazed out of my hometown as fast as possible, only to return weekly for the first two months to spend time with my dying grandmother. Being in the new environment I'd craved for years, only to be dragged away to experience a lingering, horrific death. Unable to jump into my new life while watching an old life end.

Most days I just wanted to go home, and nothing felt more like home than country music. Through the privacy of my headphones I'd sneak listens to the local country stations in between my public blastings of the Pixies and the Replacements that led to lots of unpleasant visits from my dorm's RA.

Based solely on my friend's ire and my acute craving for country, I started keeping an ear out for Uncle Tupelo. Three guys from a small town in Illinois that seemed a hell of a lot like the town I'd left, playing not country, but country infused with flavors of the punk artists just coming onto my radar - Iggy Pop, The Clash.

These guys were me.

So I sought them out, which wasn't difficult. Columbia, Missouri is only two hours from Belleville, Illinois, so it was well in UT's touring range. They were "local" to me. So imagine my surprise when I started seeing the band in Rolling Stone.

Something big was happening. Something big, and I was a part of it. On the edge, but clinging to it. R.E.M's Peter Buck was recording with them. And just like that, I'm connected to one of the first bands that caught my attention, showed me that there was more to music than what TV and radio stations from Kansas City fed me.

Being a country kid no longer meant tacky flash and sequins. It wasn't oversized cowboy hats and slick production that didn't sound much different from pop music. This was the first time since realizing Bruce Springsteen was singing about my blue-collar, industrial people did I really feel like an artist was articulating my experience. And they did it by taking the music beloved by my dying grandmother and blending it with the music that had started speaking to me.

I can't say I remember buying March 16-20, 1992. I just know it's always been in my record collection in one form or another, along with everything recorded by everyone on the album. It's been a part of my life's fabric since it arrived. It wasn't my favorite Uncle Tupelo album at the time, since it was so country. When they were new, "Anodyne" was the album that spoke to me the most.

I do remember a different day of record-shopping. In mid-October, 1994 - a week before my 23rd birthday - I bought three albums. Wilco's A.M.,Son Volt's Trace, and the Bottle Rockets' The Brooklyn Side. All three were début albums from bands fronted by Uncle Tupelo members who'd been a part of the March 16-20, 1992 sessions. A Sunday afternoon and feeling more comfortable in my skin than I was when I first heard about "that country shit," I sat in my car, ripping the cellophane from the CDs all at once. Enveloped in the new CD smell, I flipped through the liner notes, looking for familiarity. And it was there.

This is my music. It's about me. It's about the same experiences I've had. The same fears I've known. The same place that bore me.

Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, Son Volt and the Bottle Rockets have remained huge parts of my listening life for the past twenty years. In them, I can hear my own evolution as a person. I don't know if the songs mirror me or if I mirror them. I don't care.

Belleville postcard
Belleville postcard

Funny thing: in 2007 my husband and I decided to move to Belleville, Illinois. We'd been in the St. Louis area for eight years and weren't happy with our neighborhood. After a lot of research we decided Belleville offered everything we wanted - excellent schools, easy accessibility to St. Louis, affordable housing, and a sense of independence and quirkiness that suited our weird family.

It's taken five years for friends to stop accusing me of moving to Belleville because of Uncle Tupelo. It's the school, the cute 1920s brick bungalows, and the art festival. Really! The fact that the streets run with Stag Beer is an added bonus.

I would be lying, though, if I said I don't feel the impact of the history that happened in my backyard. There are Tweedys and Farrars living in my neighborhood, and people who were a part of the same music scene that produced them. We have kids in the same school, buy our milk from the same corner market and have dinner at the same restaurant while we wave to one another from our cars on America's longest Main Street.

Try walking past the fountain in Belleville's town square without singing "New Madrid" under your breath. Go on. I dare you. It can't be done.

We didn't get the house we originally wanted to buy five years ago, and it's just as well. That house is slowly slipping into one of the abandoned coal mines that litter subterranean Belleville from the days when residents would illegally dig into the black veins below the town in hopes of finding a way out of financial ruin.

All those years I'd snickered about Farrar's fixation with coal miners, ignorant to the fact that he knew what he was talking about. Every word true.

I see the relevance daily. Hear it in the stories from my Belleville friends and neighbors who were there, too. In 1992 I had no idea how many of my peers were also touched by the collision of divergent musical worlds brought forth by one little band from a little town. I thought it was just me. But now, we have a tribe. It includes our families and children, our community, and runs like a coal vein through our lives. Rich and deep, the place we mine for what's most important: who we are and where we came from.

How one album can change your life: Remembering March 16-20, 1992 by Uncle Tupelo [Recollection]

Editor's Note: 20 years ago today, the three members of Uncle Tupelo stepped into John Keane Studios in Athens, GA to begin recording their third album with producer Peter Buck, best known as the guitarist for R.E.M. Five days later they had a finished record. Over the next few days the owners of 3 Minute Record will give our thoughts on how that album changed our musical landscape. - Scott

Gimme back that year, good or bad. Gimme back something that I never knew I had. - "That Year" by Uncle Tupelo

I remember the evening vividly. A typical hot, sticky August night in St. Louis. I picked up my longtime friend Steve Kuhlman in my 1968 Chevrolet Camaro and we drove to the Granite City location (R.I.P.) of Vintage Vinyl to look for some new records. Little did I realize that one particular trip would be etched in my brain 20 years later.

In August 1992, I was a recent high school graduate of Collinsville High School just hanging out with friends and counting the days before I moved away to the University of Missouri - Columbia to begin my college education. The act of going to a record store was nothing new. I'd been doing this for years frequenting a store called the Record Company at their locations in Glen Carbon and Granite City as well as the chain stores in the mall. However, during my junior and senior years of high school I started attending shows at clubs on the Landing in St. Louis. Places like Mississippi Nights, Kennedy's and the Bernard Pub opened up a new world of possibilities to me about music. Up until this time I was content to buy records and listen to music in my room or on my Walkman. With a driver's license, a car and a little knowledge, my universe began to expand as rapidly as I was driving that V8 engine.

Now, armed with what felt like secret knowledge, I went out on the weekends to see national touring acts as well as local bands. I dug through the pages of the Riverfront Times, still owned by founder Ray Hartmann, in the constant search of new venues and new artists. Here I learned about the local music scene and started following bands like Pale Divine, Three Merry Widows and The Finn's.

While looking around the store that summer night, I stumbled upon the recently released album, March 16-20, 1992, by Belleville based band, Uncle Tupelo. Excited, I bought the new release ready to hear what it had in store. After leaving the record store that evening we headed back to my parents' house to shoot some pool on my parent's pool table. At the time, I had a new JVC dual CD/dual cassette boom box that I had received as a high school graduation present, which I left downstairs to listen to music. I removed the shrink-wrap to open up the compact disc to play. The first thing I noticed was the stark artwork; a modern twist on those early '60s records. Second, I was excited to see guitarist Peter Buck, of my favorite band R.E.M., had worked with a band as producer.  

At the time I purchased the albumI already owned the band's first two records, No Depression and Still Feel Gone, andI had seen them perform live a few times at Mississippi Nights. Early Uncle Tupelo shows were a dichotomy of power and energy mixed with slow, country balladry. They exuded a punk vibe carried over from their unique blend of the post-punk of Hüsker Dü, Minutemen and Black Flag and country music. However, as I listened to the new record, it became abundantly clear that Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy and Mike Heidhorn had intentionally made a drastic change in course. This new batch of songs was completely different from much of their early material.

During the previous couple of years I had already begun a fascination with folk music, specifically the work of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. However, March 16-20, 1992 marked a distinct turning point in the development of my musical tastes as a listener and a fan. While Nirvana had shaken the apples off the tree in a fit of raw power, Uncle Tupelo, however, took a decidedly different course. In an anti-establishment turn, which now we realize Jay Farrar is wont to do, the band eschewed the current sound for one that had been pushed to the fringe decades before. For many fans, Uncle Tupelo's blend of country, rock, and punk served as the same type of touchstone in indie circles as Nirvana and the Seattle music scene had for mainstream rock. Yet, on March 16-20, 1992, the band focused completely on the country and folk side of their music and helped launch what began to be referred to as "Alternative Country" and eventually "No Depression" after their first album.

My first inclination that something was radically different from their other work - the album is almost entirely acoustic. Yes, they had performed acoustic country music in the past as they had included covers of the Carter Family classic "No Depression" and Leadbelly's "John Hardy." However, the songs included on the latest record were haunting, politically charged ballads that spoke to the state of the working class in the early '90s - a place that Farrar and Tweedy knew all too well from their upbringing.

The album's liner notes revealed that there were 8 original songs flanked by 7 covers. One song I recognized was the traditional song,"Moonshiner," which I knew from the Bob Dylan box set, The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 Rare and Unreleased 1961-1991 released just the year before. The other cover songs completely changed my perspective on country and folk music, for example, "The Great Atomic Power" by the Louvin Brothers and "Come All You Coalminers" by Sarah Ogan Gunning.

Furthermore, I was impressed how well the original songs crafted for the album blended perfectly with the older material. Tweedy chipped in with three outstanding originals - the bouncy upbeat folk of "Wait Up" with its heartbreaking lyrics about love going bad, the gorgeous ballad "Black Eye" and the solemn "Fatal Wound," a song with as much, if not more, power as their classic "Whiskey Bottle." It's Farrar's contributions to the record, however, "Grindstone," "Criminals," "Shaky Ground" and "Wipe The Clock," paired with his readings of the covers and traditional material that give the project its depth and authenticity.  In a future foretold, Farrar continued in his post-Tupelo career, with both Son Volt and his solo material, to follow the path set forth on this record. Whereas with Wilco, Tweedy followed a more commercial road that brought him the success, fame and indie credentials he seemed to covet.

That Fall, while at the University of Missouri, I volunteered to work at student-run radio station 88.1 KCOU. I started my training and eventually got on the air for a couple of shifts in the 2-6 a.m. slot. To this day I still have a cassette tape of one of the shows that started with playing the Uncle Tupelo original instrumental, "Sandusky," followed by Woody Guthrie's "Grand Coulee Dam." When the music exemplifies a certain classic quality the new and the old blend seamlessly together and artists become intrinsically linked across generations. For me, classic country and folk music became another genre to dig into with the same ferocity as rock, soul and rhythm and blues. All it took were a trio of musicians from a couple of towns over and just a few years older than I to give me an introduction.

3 Minute Record presents the Best of 2011: Part 3 - The Final Recap

In our final installment of posts wrapping up the year in music that was 2011, I reveal the albums, both local and national that made the most impact on my music loving ears. As we celebrate 13 months as a site, we have taken time to fondly look back on our first full year and the music that helped color our writing. In 2012, we hope to bring you more album and live reviews, interviews, newsworthy content and even some new features.

Without further adieu let's get started...

Best Albums of 2011

(in no particular order)

The Decemberists - The King Is Dead (Capitol)
Employing the aesthetic of 'less is more' Colin Meloy and company paired down their sprawling concept album formula into an career defining indie rock/acoustic folk masterpiece. Upon initial listening in January I predicted this would be my favorite album of the year. With perfect production work from Tucker Martin and guest stars like Gillian Welch and Peter Buck the album If this is the last statement from the band this was epic. Favorite Track: "Down By The Water"

Hayes Carll - KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories) (Lost Highway)
With a Texas swagger and a laid back attitude, Carll slips on his six shooter to fire off another classic batch of Country Rock classics. Carll's strength is in his phrasing and witty storytelling as he gives his observations on the state of the middle of America. With heartbreaking country ballads nestled gently next to raucous bluesy rock thumpers, Carll has become a personal favorite songwriter (and live performer) in a short period of time. Favorite Track: "Bye Bye Baby"

Buffalo Tom - Skins (Scrawny)
Veteran Boston based trio Buffalo Tom returned with their first album in four years and first on their own label. Featuring a beautiful duet between guitarist Bill Janovitz and Tanya Donnelly (Throwing Muses, Belly) on the lament, "Don't Forget Me" the album showcases the three minute Alternative Rock songs that first made the band famous 20 years ago. Their most musically accomplished release to date, this band only gets better with age. Favorite Track: "Guilty Girls"

Dave Stewart - The Blackbird Diaries (Surfdog/Weapons of Mass Entertainment/Razor and Tie) A cohesive bluesy, rock romp from the former Eurythmics guitarist satisfies completely. The album finds the 59 year old musician still in good voice and possessing some badass guitar chops. Guest appearances from Stevie Nicks, Martina McBride, The Secret Sisters and Colbie Calliat enhance, but don't overshadow Stewart in the least. Looking for an album to complement Dylan's masterful three album '65-'66 output for a great mix? Look no further. Favorite Track: "Can't Get You Out Of My Head"

Tapes 'n Tapes - Outside (Ibid)
Returning with their third full-length LP Minneapolis based Tapes 'n Tapes made an engaging indie rock album filled with an atmosphere of world sounds and beats while still playing as a four piece of bass guitar, drums, and two guitars. Mixing in some horn and organ in the arrangements, the band mixes up the sonic landscape away from two guitars, bass, and drums. Like a good album that becomes great with repeated listens, I kept returning to this record over and over all year and plan to for years to come. Favorite Track: "Badaboom"

Tom Waits - Bad As Me (Anti-)
His strongest, most cohesive statement since Mule Variations (1999), Waits delivers a set of '50s rock 'n roll as though it were pushed through a post-rock meat grinder. Waits, a 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, growls through cacophonous, upbeat stompers which lie perfectly next to sparse, post-modern torch songs laid bare and exposed. Favorite Track:

Okkervil River - I Am Very Far (Jagjaguwar)
Over the past decade Will Sheff has continually polished the sound of his band, Austin based Okkervil River. Here, as evidenced by the track "Rider," he pushes the band's indie post-rock/pop through a "Wall of Sound" production infusing more of the '60s pop elements at the bedrock of his music while mixing in modern electronic textures. The vinyl version, a double LP, lacked a gatefold package Favorite Track: "Rider"

Jessica Lea Mayfield - Tell Me (Nonesuch)
On her sophomore album, the 22-year-old Mayfield, seduces the listener completely with her sultry voice and heartbreaking lyrics. A protege of the Black Keys Dan Auerbach, Mayfield delivers what on the surface seems like nonchalant vocals that become much deeper when the lyrics ripped from the pages of a personal diary reveal themselves. With ethereal guitar sounds and a solid backbone. Favorite Track: "I'll Be The One You Want Someday"

Telekinesis - 12 Desperate Straight Lines (Merge)
Michael Benjamin Lerner, the mastermind behind Telekinesis, fits his indie pop nicely between The Cure and Fountains of Wayne on his sophomore effort. With its punchy bass lines and pulsing drums, nearly every track on the album has the ability to fill a dance floor. Clocking in at just 33 minutes, there's no room to get bored here. Favorite Track: "Please Ask For Help"

JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound - Want More (Bloodshot)
Further honing their Neo-Soul revival sound, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound upped the ante for other acts within their subgenre with their Bloodshot Records debut. The album offers up nine upbeat originals and a couple of covers, including an imaginative version of fellow Chicago based band Wilco's "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart." While exuding the classic R & B and soul sound, the band stays modern with fresh, contemporary lyrics and a bit more rock backbone. The cover art even gives off a retro vibe of as it's reminiscent of The Stooges self-titled 1969 album, including all the attitude and swagger of the original. Favorite Track: "I Got High"

Best Reissues of 2011

(in no particular order)

The Beach Boys - The Smile Sessions (Deluxe Box) (Capitol/EMI)
Originally scheduled for release in January 1967, a full six months before Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band hit the stores, Smile may have been the record that topped every critics list of favorite albums of all time. Instead, 40 plus years after being recorded, The Beach Boys lost masterpiece finally received a proper release in all it's restored glory and minutiae. The behemoth of a box contains five CDs, two 180 gram Vinyl LPs, two vinyl singles, a 60 page bound book, a poster and more. If you're going to leave fans waiting for 44 years this is how you release an album.

Johnny Cash - Bootleg Vol. 2: From Memphis to Hollywood (Columbia/Legacy)
This set is Johnny Cash at his most vulnerable. Beginning with a glimpse of Cash and the Tennessee Two performing live on the radio in Memphis during the same week Cash's daughter Rosanne Cash was born. Followed by Cash with his acoustic guitar recording demo versions of some of his most famous songs and rare tracks. Finally, a peek into the Columbia studios during the early '60s for his recording sessions with the Tennessee Three and the Statler Brothers.

The Jayhawks - Tomorrow The Green Grass (American)
The classic Jayhawks album that produced the radio friendly hit "Blue" and ended the first period of the band is expanded with five completed bonus tracks and demos. The second disc, filled with rough acoustic demos from a particularly fruitful writing period, were recorded a full three years before the record was released. Demonstrating even more of a country feel, the demos breathe new life into these familiar songs. Deserving of a renaissance now that the band has reformed and released new material, this album stands the test and rises above others recorded during the period.

R.E.M. - Life's Rich Pageant (Capitol) 
Before the break up that came later in the year, R.E.M. celebrated the 25th anniversary of their big sounding rock record with a deluxe edition just as they had done with their first three full-length albums. The previous three anniversary editions contained extra discs of full live shows and demos. Here the bonus tracks are demos for the album recorded in Athens prior to the sessions with producer Don Gehman reveal works in progress ("Fall On Me") and finished products that had been in the live set for years ("Hyena" and "Just A Touch").

Miles Davis - The Bootleg Series, Volume 1: Live In Europe 1967 (Columbia/Legacy)
The first in a new live series focusing on Davis starts near the middle with his second great quintet (Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams). This 3xCD/DVD set documents five shows from 1967 with the band at the zenith of their creative powers as they bid farewell to their bebop roots and start to form their electric consciousness. The video containing footage from performances in Germany and Sweden is startling in its raw power and the ability of he musicians to play in unison while seemingly in their own world. If this release is any indication of the wealth of treasures in the vaults with Davis' name marked on the tape box then we are in for a treat over the next several years.

Sebadoh - Bakesale [Deluxe Edition] (Sub Pop)
Released at the near peak of the Alternative Rock years, even lo-fi indie rock found some of the spotlight. Bakesale, the most cohesive album in the band's discography gets an expanded reissue overseen by both Lou Barlow and Jason Loewenstein. The original 15 song record produced by Shellac's Bob Weston is supplemented with a robust 25 additional tracks over two discs. The extras include demos, acoustic versions, studio experiments and EP tracks. A must have for any fan of Sebadoh.

Various Artists - Follow Me Down: Vanguard's Lost Psychedelic Era (1966-1970) (Vanguard) Released on Record Store Day, this double LP mines the vaults of Vanguard Records for obscure rock from the late 196o's. The songs are remarkably fresh given their time on the shelf inside the vaults. While the groups contained here are virtually unknown, the depth of the recording industry at the time demonstrates just how much quality music was being released in that period.

Television - Live at the Old Waldorf (Live in San Francisco 1978) [Vinyl Edition] (Rhino)
Another Record Store Day exclusive, this out of print release originally released by Rhino Handmade in 2003 as a limited edition surfaced again briefly for a pressing of 3,000 copies on 180 gram vinyl. Comprising songs from both Marquee Moon and Adventure the set highlights include a live version of the single "Little Johnny Jewel," and a 14-plus minute version of "Marquee Moon." The set culminates in musically straight cover of the Rolling Stones "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." A blistering guitar solo by Richard Lloyd offsets Tom Verlaine's angular vocal reading.

Chris Mills - Heavy Years: 2000-2010 (Ernest Jenning)
A proper compilation for the Brooklyn based songwriter with St. Louis roots who has somehow managed to slip through the cracks of making a bigger name in the music industry. Pulling together much of the strongest material from his last four full-length albums and adding two new compositions, this chronicles a decade of songwriting that saw Mills mature into voice that deserved to be heard.

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - Tape Club (Polyvinyl)
The anthesis of the breakout album by Kiss, Alive, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin gives newcomers to the band an overview of the band's history with a sprawling double album. Including lo-fi recordings and album produced tracks, SSLYBY waves hello by letting their guard down and allowing their three day old stubble to show rather than a putting forth only a pretty face.

Best Local Albums of 2011

The Blind Eyes - With A Bang (Self-released)
Favorite Cut: "Another Last Night"

Pokey LaFarge & The South City Three - Middle of Everywhere (Free Dirt)
Favorite Track: "Ain't The Same"

Ryan Spearman - Get Along Home (Self-released)
Favorite Track: "Willie McGee"

John Henry & the Engine - Sad Face Of Yours [EP] (Self-released)
Favorite Track: "Sad Face Of Yours"

Sleepy Kitty - Infinity City (Euclid Records)
Favorite Track: "Gimme A Chantz!"

Troubadour Dali - Let's Make It Right (Euclid Records)
Favorite Track: "Wash Away"

Favorite Local Beer at a Local Show in 2011

Half Wit (Charleville) at Off Broadway

3 Minute Record Presents the Best of 2011: Part 2 ...Time flies when you're having fun

We present part 2 in our series of posts regarding the Best of 2011. Here's Bart Darnell with his take on what happened last year in chronological order. His list of favorite albums is located at the bottom of the post. Enjoy! - Scott Allen Wow, where did the year go? I'm going to make an attempt to remember all the awesomeness that happened musically this year. 2011 sure was a great year to be a music fan. In the interest of this not being especially long, I am going to just list everything that I remember and not go into too much detail about the events. All you need to know is that everything listed below was completely amazing. Here goes...

The year pretty much got kicked into high gear with Marshall Crenshaw and The Bottle Rockets at Off Broadway. A trip out to Vegas included going to see Social Distortion/Lucero/Chuck Ragan at The House Of Blues. Ben Folds rocked the Pageant. February brought Less Than Jake to Pop's and Johnathan Richman to Off Broadway.

Spring started to creep in and along with warmer weather, brought along shows from Two Cow Garage, Will Hoge, and Sebadoh. The Beale St. Music Festival (part of Memphis in May) was a whirlwind of terrific music. The Flaming Lips, Amy LaVere, Jerry Lee Lewis, Lucinda Williams, The Coug, Cee Lo, Wilco, and Lucero were just some of the highlights for me. May continued on with great shows from Ted Leo, Will Johnson, and Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit.

Twangfest rolled around in June. Kentucky Knife Fight, Elizabeth Cook, Hayes Carll, Cumberland Gap, Robbie Fulks, Marah, Steve Wynn, and the Baseball Project all delivered. I got to meet Mike Mills! Sadly, June also saw the passing of Clarence Clemons. I spent the night listening to the Boss and having a few brews in honor of the Big Man. The first week of July was truly epic with shows from Elvis Costello, Centro-Matic, and Dave Alvin! Amy LaVere played an amazing show at Off Broadway in August. As summer started to fade, I got to take my brother to see Gillian Welch at the Pageant for his birthday.

October 2011 was about as perfect a month as any could ever be. The Cards made the postseason by the skin of their teeth. Wilco rocked the newly  re-opened Peabody Opera House. Tom Russell played Off Broadway on the night that the Cards finished off the Phillies in Game 5 of the NLDS. The next night, he played another great show at Turner Hall in Mt. Olive, IL. Matthew Sweet played the Duck Room and treated the crowd to his masterpiece, Girlfriend, in its entirety. (How can it really be the 20 year anniversary of that record? We're getting old!) The next night, Robbie Fulks and Willy Porter wowed the crowd at Off Broadway, and the Cards dispatched of the Brewers in the NLCS. Fittingly, I was running sound at The Tap Room for Fred Friction and the Trophy Mules when the Redbirds clinched their 11th title.

The year started to wind down with shows from Joshua Black Wilkins and the Jayhawks in November. December saw Jason Isbell and John Prine play at the Touhill. Lucero rocked Off Broadway. Sadly, Warren Hellman, founder of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, passed away on December 18th. Cory Branan and Dave Hause combined their super powers at Cicero's. The last big show of the year was, of course, from Lucero. Their annual Christmas show at Minglewood Hall, this year with Amy LaVere, was the perfect finish to 2011.

Off Broadway continued their domination of being the best venue in town. Congrats to Steve and his crew for their ongoing excellence! Was sad to see FSFU come to an end. Was really sad to hear that R.E.M. were retiring. Jeff gave me my first fix of R.E.M. and they are the reason I met and became friends with Scott. You could say, this blog is a product of that band. Really wish I could have got at least one more live show from them though. Big congrats to Jamal McLaughlin for starting the Foot In The Door local showcases at the Wildey Theater in Edwardsville, IL. The three showcases featured great local bands and performers including, The Highway Companion, Vanilla Beans, Belleview, Explosive Space Modulator, Robin Bettonville Hileman, Greg Silsby, The Flatwheel Band, Bruiser Queen, Super Fun Yeah Yeah Rocketship, and I Have A Bomb. Keep the fires burning sir! Listen Up Nite was another great local showcase of local singer-songwriters that was held at the Focal Point. Fred Friction, John Krane, Dana Anderson, Steve Chosich, Dave Werner, Jesse Irwin, and Katie Jones were just some of the amazing talent that graced the stage at Listen Up Nites. Of course, I can't forget to mention the fantastical day of hanging with my buds during this years Record Store Day. It was a great day of live music, tasty beers, and records, records, records! Scott, Jeff, and I all got to start being part of the record spins at The Royale on a monthly basis. Thank you Scott for getting us in there!

I got to run/provide sound for the following bands/artists this year. Thank you all for allowing me to be part of what you do and to continue to get better at it. Here's the list: The Trophy Mules, The Scapegoats, Joshua Black Wilkins, Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, The Reflectacles, Fred Friction, Trigger 5, Prairie Rehab, Katie and the Curs, Pistol Pete and the Country Stank, Dibiase (though I didn't really have to do anything), The Great Crusades, The Plane Austers, an almost full lineup of Suede Chain (!!!), and Dana Anderson. Big thanks again to Jamal for letting me be involved with the sound for the third installment of Foot In The Door. (Big thanks to Jeff and Josh for helping out that night as well!)

I know I'm forgetting a lot of other stuff. But in the interest of wrapping this up, 2011 was a great year. 2012 has a lot to live up to. Here's just a few of the things I'm looking forward to in the 2012. New Lucero record and tour. New Springsteen record and tour. Craig Finn at Off Broadway. Hopefully a new Franklin Felix record. (Hurry up Jeff! Just kidding sir. No seriously, hurry up!) Frank Turner at Off Broadway. Lots of apparent activity from Hot Water Music. New John Krane record? Todd Snider at The Sheldon. Promise Ring reunion show in Chicago. New Cory Branan record. Hanging with buds at Record Store Day. 2012, let's do this...

Here's a list of the records that spun heavily in my collection from 2011 in no particular order:

  • Tom Russell - Mesabi
  • Hayes Carll - KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories)
  • Frank Turner - England Keep My Bones
  • Chuck Ragan - Covering Ground
  • Centro-Matic - Candidate Waltz
  • Will Johnson - Little Raider (EP)
  • Braid - Closer To Closed (EP)
  • Dave Alvin - Eleven Eleven
  • Glossary - Long Live All Of Us
  • Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - Here We Rest
  • Amy LaVere - Stranger Me
  • Title Tracks - In Blank
  • Dave Hause - Resolutions
  • The Horrible Crowes - Elsie
  • The Blind Eyes - With A Bang
  • Joshua Black Wilkins - The Girlfriend Sessions

Happy New Year everyone!

3 Minute Record presents the Best of 2011: Part 1

Happy New Year! While we are excited to see what happens in 2012, there were some great musical highlights from the previous year we'd like to touch on. Over three posts we will present our individual thoughts about our favorite music of the year that was 2011. No list is the same or meant to be definitive, but these are the albums that touched us the most last year. The lists are not ranked, but in no particular order. We start out today with the list supplied by Jeff Fields. Thanks for reading. Enjoy! - Scott Allen 

Best Albums of 2011

White Denim - D (Downtown)
Mathy-indie, hippie-prog shredders from Austin make a deep & wide record that could make your favorite rock critic exhaust their treasure trove of adjectives.

Wye Oak - Civilian (Merge)
Lushly dark & surprisingly heavy emotion makes this record so easy to get lost in (not unlike when I was 14 and every song still had the "new car scent"). They meld the power of Neil Young and shoegaze 90’s rock with a gentle frailty.

The Head And The Heart - The Head And The Heart (Sub Pop)
This album rides the nouveau-folk trail blazed by Fleet Foxes, but does so with a poppier feel (and a lot less reverb).

Chris Thile & Michael Daves - Sleep With One Eye Open (Nonesuch)
This bluegrass mandolin & guitar duo harken back to a Stanley Brothers style sound. They provide excellent picking and some classic covers. This was the best bluegrass record to come out in 2011, hands down.

Gillian Welch (& David Rawlings) - The Harrow And The Harvest (Acony)
Gillian and David are the two most symbiotic singer/songwriters working today. Folk songs of death, whiskey and the south so visual they paint themselves in between your ears.

Wilco - The Whole Love (dBpm)
Wilco has given us their most diverse record yet. Songs range from electro rave-ups to pure indie rock to 60's pop throwbacks. This may be a diverse record, but all tracks are consistently anchored by excellent core songs.

Foo Fighters - Wasting Light (RCA)
There are 11 tracks on this record and only 2 of these are not rock radio anthem quality. Nobody writes records this hit laden anymore, not even the Black Eyed Peas. Wasting Light was recorded 100% analog. Respect is due people!

Hayes Carll - KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories) (Lost Highway)
Carll is a country chameleon with some of the best swinging country, talking blues, ballads and boozing anthems ever written for one album. Think Dylan, but country and with a Generation X angle.

The Decemberists - The King Is Dead (Capitol)
This record exemplifies everything you want in a great record. There is great recording/production, great songs/arrangement and great performances. These songs are the perfect marriage of indie rock and acoustic folk. It has superstar cameos and an excellent “making of” documentary. It is as perfect a swan song as any band can give to the world.

The Washover Fans - That Habit Suits You (CDBY)
This Seattle folk/americana/acoustic group delivers fresh songs with an earnest delivery. They never attempt to feign a southern accent or appear as anything they are not. The male/female vocal harmonies drive these very personal songs with great passion. This record is great example of a new band with great potential.

Best Reissues of 2011

Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak (Deluxe Edition) (Mercury)
There are a few reasons to love this reissue. They didn’t release a new remaster of the original album (ie. overcompress it so the kids think it’s loud enough), but reissued the 1996 remaster. They give you some beefed up remixes of the “hits” featuring new guitar overdubs. They include some great live from the BBC tracks. A classic record that never gets old, period.

The Jayhawks – Tomorrow The Green Grass (Legacy Edition) (American)
It was hard to pick which of the reissued Jayhawks records was the best of the two, the decision was made by the sheer volume of extras included here. You get a whole second disc or rarities, three versions of “Blue” and a copy of the great title track too. This is an overlooked classic that will hopefully find a bigger audience now that The Jayhawks have reunited.

Material Issue – International Pop Overthrow - 20th Anniversary Edition (Hip-O Select)
This record is an early 90’s pop-rock monster. Material Issue crafted a classic that now should rank next to the best of Big Star, Cheap Trick or The Smithereens. There are 4 songs with girls in the title and 3 of those were singles. The girl song formula was well used on this record and done very well.

Smashing Pumpkins – Gish (Deluxe Edition) (Virgin)
There have been rumblings of a proper remix or remaster of this record since 1997, so I was glad when I realized it was truly coming out. When I finally listened to remastering of this cd I realized my worst fears. This version was very compressed and lost much of the dynamics that made the original so great. The true saving grace for this (along with the Siamese Dream reissue) is the extra tracks. There are remixed versions of some songs (including Drown, Sub Pop single and demos) and some Peel session tracks. The real treat is the unreleased songs, not the remaster. The same holds true for the Siamese Dream package too.

Can – Tago Mago (40th Anniversary Edition) (Mute U.S.)
Only Can could craft this devastatingly intricate and unique record. That is all you really can say about this record. This new package includes 3 live songs, which is actually 47 minutes of music (hopefully that clues you in to how intricate the songs are).

Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon (Immersion Box Set) (Capitol/EMI)
This is an epic collection of songs and a legendary recording session. Since its release it has been a true classic of rock and roll. This set includes a very compressed 2011 remaster along with every possible audiophile version of the record (including HD, quadrophonic and an early mix of the record) along with a 1972 live performance of the whole record.

The Dismemberment Plan – Emergency & I (Vinyl Edition) (Desoto)
Some records sound dated or echo a certain scene or era. Emergency and I seems just awkward enough to elude this type of stamping. This record emerged from a convergence of some pretty fantastic elements like two great producers (J. Robbins & Chad Clark), a band with extreme talent finally crafting structured songs and quirky (but catchy) introspective lyrics.

Queens Of The Stone Age – Queens Of The Stone Age (Remastered) (Domino/Rekords)
This is a very cohesive and massive début record. It says everything you need to know about Queens. Originally released on an independent label in 1998, this record has been out of print for quite a while. It displays the blueprint for Queens’ signature sound. Domino Records re-released this record and gave newcomers a second chance to own this epic début.

The Beach Boys – The Smile Sessions (2 CD) (Capitol/EMI)
It took 40+ years to release. If you bought Brian Wilson’s Smile release then you know what you’ve been missing. The Brian version is a much more high fidelity version, but any true fan of music wants to hear what everyone has been missing for half of a century.

Superchunk – Foolish (Remastered) (Merge)
Originally, it only took 3 days to record this dark and angular indie classic. Some of the darkness stems from a Fleetwood Mac style band couple breakup. The great folks at Merge wisely included demos, acoustic versions and outtakes along with an entire live set. Bob Weston’s subtle but perfect remastering should give other engineers an example of how to approach and execute flawlessly.

Best Local Beers at a Local Show in 2011

  • Stag at Off Broadway at Lucero show
  • Schlafly ESB at The Pageant at The Jayhawks
  • Budweiser at Scotttrade at Foo Fighters

What's So Wrong About Staying Home With Your Record Collection?

High Fidelity

"Is it so wrong, wanting to be at home with your record collection? It’s not like collecting records is like collecting stamps, or beermats, or antique thimbles." - Nick Hornby

You may not remember, but writer Nick Hornby wrote that line for his novel High Fidelity. Hornby's novel spoke to me loudly when I read it more than 10 years ago, as I identified closely with protagonist Rob Fleming. Last night I found some time to do just that - spend some time with my records. It's nowhere near the time I spent at home listening to records when I was 16, but that feeling of laying on your floor scanning the sleeve for information never gets old.

Personally, I've never had a hard and fast rule about buying music. I had always bought albums on vinyl and compact disc mostly dependent on price. However, a few months back I made the commitment to myself to buy music released prior to 1990 exclusively on vinyl. First, it was the predominant medium for music until the explosion of compact discs in the late 1980's. Further, I would make an attempt to buy early pressings and not the obvious later pressings or reissues.

For years, I bought music on the most convenient form available to me at the time. First, it was 45 RPM singles (for the Fisher Price record player) and later cassettes (for my Ghetto Blaster - yes, even kids in the suburbs called the metal tape player/radio combo by this urban name for the portable cassette player). Then, after my parents bought me a real stereo with a Scott (no pun, just a good brand name) receiver, Techniques turntable and double cassette player, vinyl was the preferred choice. A few years later I started buying compact discs. I have bought music in the mp3 format, but the experience leaves me cold and usually I only make that plunge when it's the only way to find the music.

The only caveat I made for myself on this new rule was for a deluxe edition of the album on CD like the recent reissues by The Kinks or something similar.

So far this year I've bought over 60 albums on vinyl. You'll find a list below of what has been spinning at 33 1/3 RPM on my turntable lately. Some of these albums I have on compact disc and others I had on cassette years ago and never replaced on disc. Other albums on the list I'd heard songs from over the years and just never purchased. Further, there were albums I had on my mental list and when I stumbled upon a nice copy I pulled the trigger and picked it up. Finally, some are just plain new to me entirely; either new bands or albums that come highly recommended. If you see a stone cold classic below I've likely had the album for years in some format and I've just run across a very nice vinyl copy.

Here's what I've bought in the past couple of months since Record Store Day.

The Band - S/T
Big Brother & The Holding Company - Cheap Thrills
The Blues Project - Projections
The Byrds - Mr. Tambourine Man (Mono)
The Byrds - Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde
The Chambers Brothers - The Time Has Come
The Conformists - None Hundred
Ry Cooder - S/T
David Crosby - If Only I Could Remember My Name...
Bob Dylan - Desire
The English Beat - Special Beat Service
The Faces - First Step
Johnny Horton - The Spectacular Johnny Horton
Waylon Jennings - The One and Only
The Knitters - Poor Little Critter On The Road
Little Feat - Dixie Chicken
Little Feat - Feats Don't Fail Me Now
Nick Lowe - Labour Of Love
Taj Mahal - The Natch'l Blues
Van Morrison - Veedon Fleece

Cover of

Laura Nyro - New York Tendaberry
Okkervil River - I Am Very Far
Marty Robbins - Devil Woman (Mono)
The Roches - S/T
The Roches - Nurds
Boz Scaggs & Band - S/T
Stephen Stills - 2
Talking Heads - Talking Heads '77
Title Tracks - In Blank
Two Cow Garage - Sweet Saint Me
The Wildflowers - Sometime Soon

 

Hey! Look What I found. Where Do You Buy Records?

Yesterday, I found a copy of one of my favorite albums at a local antique mall/indoor flea market. You never know what you're going to stumble upon at one of these places. I didn't have a lot of time so I flipped through the 6 or 8 crates of records pretty quickly. I happened to find a VG/VG+ original copy of The Byrds LP Mr. Tambourine Man in Mono for $5.00. Except for a little wear around the edges, mostly on the bottom front cover and a stamp on the name and address of a previous owner on the back; the record is in great condition. There was no sleeve inside promoting the other albums for sale, but so often those are replaced or gone anyway.

Mr. Tambourine Man
Mr. Tambourine Man

The stereo copy of the album would have the 'Stereo "360 Sound"' logo on both the top of the front cover and the red label on the record. This one has neither and has the correct corresponding catalog item number of CL2372.

Mr. Tambourine Man label
Mr. Tambourine Man label

This is one of my favorite albums of all time and as I was excited to find a nice copy. Now, I just need to spring for that USB turntable I've been wanting so I can hear the difference between the vinyl and the CD reissue from the late '90s.

This find got me thinking about a question I had started a post on months ago, but never got around to finishing. Unfortunately, the question "Where do you buy records?" becomes harder after each passing year. With the influx of iTunes, Amazon, and online retailing the brick and mortar there are less record stores than ever. Independent record stores have been closing for years and still continue to close.

Not only do independent record stores have to compete with the internet, but the big box stores carry music too. Target, Borders, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart and K-Mart, have music sections, albeit only compact discs, though much more limited in overall scope than in years past. Out of these stores only Best Buy carries vinyl, but only in very small selection and quantities.

Here's a list of you local independent record stores -
Record Stores
Apop Records - St. Louis
CD Reunion - St. Charles
CD Warehouse - South County
Euclid Records - Webster Groves
Phono Mode - St. Louis
Record Exchange - St. Louis
Slackers - 10 St. Louis Metro Area locations
Vintage Vinyl - University City

Then, there's the semi-monthly St. Louis Record Collector's Show held in South St. Louis bringing dealers from in town and out of town focused on mostly vinyl LP's and 45 RPM records, but also selling compact discs and DVD's. Plus, there are tons of various online retailers ready to sell you vinyl and ship it directly to your door.

However, you can also find some diamonds in the rough in places like antique malls like I do on a regular basis.  You have to be a bit more careful with these to look them over and do your research, but you may still find some nice pieces. Further, there is a monthly flea marke at the St. Clair County Fairgrounds, Belleville, IL.

Finally, you can search sites like Craigslist, ebay, or etsy for some finds. Many folks are nice here, but some don't know anything about the worth of records and could be overcharging wildly so be careful.

St. Louis is lucky to have some great independent record stores to supply more than just "hit" tunes to the music loving public. Get out there and buy some music people! Please leave some comments if you know of some other local outlets.

WINNER! 3 Minute Record Album Art Quiz [Trivia]

Congratulations to Jon Bauer for winning the first installment of the 3 Minute Record Album Art Quiz! Jon correctly answered 13 of the 15 albums in the quiz. See the list of album covers below for the correct answers of artist and album title. Jon please let us know which one of these 15 albums you would like and we'll send you your prize. Thanks to everyone who sent in their answers! Look for more installments of this quiz in the near future.

Number 1. - Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion

Number 2.The Band - Music From Big Pink

Number 3. Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Number 4. Pink Floyd - Meddle

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Number 5. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Bayou Country

Number 6. King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King

Number 7. Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures

Number 8. Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde

Number 9. Ride - Nowhere

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Number 10. Blind Faith - S/T

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Number 11. Slint - Spiderland

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Number 12. They Might Be Giants - Lincoln

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Number 13. The Velvet Underground & Nico - S/T

Number 14. Seam - The Pace Is Glacial

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Number 15. Traffic - S/T

3 Minute Record Album Art Quiz [Trivia]

Welcome to the first installment of the 3 Minute Record Album Art Quiz! See the 15 album covers listed below and send us your response with both the artist and the album title. The person with the most correct answers will win a copy of any one of these 15 albums of their choosing. Please leave a comment below or send an e-mail to us here at 3minuterecord  @  gmail.com (without the spaces of course). Now get to it!!! Number 1.

Number 2.

Number 3.

Number 4.

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Number 5.

Number 6.

Number 7.

Number 8.

Number 9.

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Number 10.

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Number 11.

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Number 12.

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Number 13.

Number 14.

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Number 15.