TER­RELL’S TUNE- UP

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos - Steve Ter­rell 7. Let Loose! by the Blood­hounds. This mostly Chi­cano band from East L.A. plays ba­sic, un­fet­tered, rock­ing blues — closer to gut­bucket than to the smooth, tame up­town stuff — a lit­tle rock­a­billy sneer. They honor as­cended masters like Hound

the realms of prim­i­tive rock, raw blues, and gritty soul in Booker’s mu­sic. (His record-company hype men­tioned the Gun Club, Blind Wil­lie John­son, and T. Rex.) But there is no ob­vi­ous imi­ta­tion at work here. Booker builds on the foun­da­tions of the mu­sic he loves and cre­ates a sound that’s fresh, though some­what fa­mil­iar. time sig­na­tures and un­pre­dictable twists and turns, with nods to Cap­tain Beef­heart, Frank Zappa, and Pere Ubu. 2014’s top 14 One of the most fre­quent ques­tions I get from read­ers of this col­umn, as well as from lis­ten­ers to my pod­cast and ra­dio shows, is “Where do you find this stuff?” I usu­ally re­ply, half-jok­ing, “I don’t find it. It finds me.” But the ques­tion un­der­scores what has be­come the state of mu­sic in the early 21st cen­tury. It’s harder to find great mu­sic with the tightly con­trolled playlists on com­mer­cial ra­dio, the con­sol­i­da­tion of ma­jor la­bels, and all that other stuff we’ve been wring­ing our hands about for so many years. But with the magic of the in­ter­net, there are a zil­lion more choices if mu­sic means enough to you that you are will­ing to invest a lit­tle time to seek it out. Faced with that re­al­ity, 2014 didn’t pro­duce any new Elvis, Bea­tles, or Nir­vana. But it did bring break­out work by Sturgill Simp­son, Ben­jamin Booker, and the Blood­hounds — plus a lot of cool sounds by old fa­vorites and new fa­vorites who de­serve big­ger au­di­ences. Here are my fa­vorites of the year. 1. Red Beans and Weiss by Chuck E. Weiss. The crag­gy­faced, mop- topped hiero­phant of the hip­ster un­der­ground (and Tom Waits crony) re­turned in 2014 with a new al­bum that’s full of stripped-down rock ’ n’ roll, R& B, blues, laughs, post-Beat cool, hard-earned wis­dom, and flashes of in­san­ity. For sheer goofi­ness, lis­ten to the crazy New Or­leans-soaked sin­ga­long, “Willy’s in the Pee Pee House,” or “Hey Pen­dejo,” the great­est pseudo-Mex­i­can tune by grin­gos since the Pogues’ “Fi­esta.” And for some dead-on in­sight into the Holo­caust, try “Bomb the Tracks.” 2. Me­ta­mod­ern Sounds in Coun­try Mu­sic by Sturgill Simp­son. This is truly one of the strangest coun­try al­bums I’ve ever heard. It’s also one of the most au­then­tic-sound­ing new coun­try al­bums to cross my eardrums in a long while — even though there are a cou­ple of spots where the mu­sic drifts from its sturdy, ’70s-out­law foun­da­tions into raw psychedelia. And yes, this is “au­then­tic coun­try,” even with lyrics like “rep­tile aliens made of light cut you open and pull out all your pain” and ref­er­ences to mar­i­juana, LSD, psilo­cy­bin, and DMT. And that’s just in the first song. Sturgill Simp­son is a true hill­billy vi­sion­ary.

3. Ben­jamin Booker (self-ti­tled). I’ve been a huge fan of Ben­jamin Booker’s ever since his early days. In fact, I be­came a de­voted, drool­ing Book­er­head right after the re­lease of this, his de­but al­bum, in late Au­gust. A dis­cern­ing ear prob­a­bly can hear sub­tle mu­si­cal nods to the young New Or­leans-based rocker’s idols from

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