KDHX Top 50 Albums of 2008

Photo by Sara Finke

It’s no small task tracking album spins at 88.1 FM. The variety of the programming means KDHX might air 300 different songs on any given day. But this year, we’ve crunched the numbers and come up with a list of the Top 50 Albums of 2008, as spun on your community radio station in Saint Louis. What was the Number 1 album of the year? Click read more to find out!

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New twang from the Linemen

Photo by Sara Finke

Photo by Sara Finke

Over the last three years, I’ve spilled enough ink on the Linemen that I’m surprised they’ve ever come clean. But their deceptively untraditional approach to traditional country music (whatever that is) retains the luster of veteran musicianship, the freshness of finely-crafted songwriting and the shine of true feelings—even if the feeling is mostly heartbreak. The band has been around since 2005, fronted by the rich tenor of Kevin Butterfield and featuring guitar and pedal steel from Scott Swartz (not to mention the rhythm work of John Baldus and Greg Lamb), and they’ve released one album, 2007’s superb Through Side One. If you have even a passing affection for country music, you should get it today.

Working mostly in Scott Swartz’s basement studio, the band is set to release its second album, Reconsider, on February 21, with a party that evening at Off Broadway. The album features 10 originals and one cover: Gram Parson’s “Hot Burrito #1.” Guest musicians include Dave Grelle (of the Feed) on piano, Mark Chechik (of Melody Den) on guitar, Jesse Irwin on vocals and Ronnie Bell on B3 organ and Rhodes.

Judging from the sound of “Kansas City,” the first track I’ve heard, the new album will be another keeper.

The Linemen on Myspace

Kansas City

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Your Community | Your Flickr

Over on the sidebar of this blog, you’ll see thumbnails of photos taken by KDHX friends and staff–all streamed in from the KDHX Flickr Group, the latest addition to the KDHX-o-sphere. Sara, Grace and others have taken scores of snappy photos of KDHX events and live performances; check them out in the slideshow below and join the group if you have community radio photos to share!

Fred’s “Six Feet Under” – Grand Re-Opening Tonight!

The heir-apparent to Frederick’s Music Lounge, hosted and bartended by Fred Friction himself, is finally re-opening, after more than a year of bureaucratic-hoop-jumping-through by the owners of the Iron Barley. That’s where the cozy basement bar is that becomes the music club in the cold weather months.

Tonight, from 10:00 ’til Midnight or so, the Sins of the Pioneers are bringing their multi-generational brand of New Orleans Jazz and R&B, Rock & Roll, Country, and Creole Caribbeanisms to heat up the night.

It’s tradition without the tedium. That’s at 5510 Virginia Ave — just north of Bates. (You have to go around back to get down there.)

Scene of the Crime is invaded by Ninnies!

Photo by Tom Galda

Photo by Tom Galda

Each week on Scene of the Crime, Jason and Ann Rerun spin sides from countless ’70s & ’80s Punk and New Wave bands. Some bands are well documented, but many of the bands/records are complete mysteries. With so many fly-by-night bands releasing their own records without proper distribution, and the small amount of information on the records not being current for 25-30 years in most cases; it’s often hard to track down much, if anything on these bands. In their never ending, record collector-geek fueled quest to put all the pieces together, Jason and Ann hit pay dirt with one Chicago area punky Power Pop band!

During a search for an original copy of the sole 45 by suburban Chicago band the Ninnies from 1981, Jason stumbled across one of the members of the band. Emails and monies were exchanged for said 45, and the band member mentioned one of the Ninnies now resides in Saint Louis. More emails were exchanged (with now, both members) and a feature on the Ninnies was born. After several weeks of careful planning and anticipation, Jason and Ann Rerun are proud to welcome three members of the Ninnies as special guests on Scene of the Crime. The Saint Louis Ninnie along with two of the Chicago Ninnies will join Jason and Ann in the studio on Monday January 19 from 10:00 pm – Midnight. The Ninnies members will fill in those puzzle pieces and warp our minds with tall tales of Punk band antics from the late 70’s. Music from the forthcoming Ninnies CD collection will be heard for the first time outside of the band on this special! Don’t be a Ninnie! Tune in!

Update: Here’s a 45 single from the Ninnies.

Spaz Attack

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Breaking: Chris Gaffney Tribute Due this Spring

The last time I spoke to the late Chris Gaffney was at the KDHX studios, about two years ago. His band, the fabulous country-soul-honky-tonkers the Hacienda Brothers, were in town for a gig; I had lined them up with an in-studio session for my show. I had also written a Critic’s Pick for the Riverfront Times, and as we waited for the drums to sound check, he and his bass player stalked about the Magnolia Avenue Studio lobby and read the paragraph out loud, not knowing I was the author. Such are the moments of slow death for a music critic. “‘He’s no threat to James Carr,’” Gaffney quoted. “Sh*t, who is? That’s the greatest soul singer who ever lived.”

Gaffney was, in his own way, a great soul singer; his voice had all the ravage and expression of hard living, and that living caught up with him in April 2008, when he succumbed to liver cancer.

His long-time partner Dave Alvin has organized a tribute CD, with proceeds benefiting Hungry For Music and the survivng members of Chris’s family. Contributors include Los Lobos, James McMurtry, Tom Russell, Alejandro Escovedo and Calexico.

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Favorite Reissues Of 2008

2008 was a great year on the reissue front. Like my list of favorite compilations of 2008, I’m barely making a dent when talking about standouts among all the releases that came out. Hey, you do what you can…..

1. Bob Dylan: Tell Tale Signs – The Bootleg Series: Vol. 8 – Columbia

This really isn’t a reissue since almost every track on the 2-CD (or 3-CD ridiculously priced deluxe version) set has not been previously released. But seeing as how I left it off my list of Top 10 new releases and my list of favorite 2008 compilations, I had to put it somewhere because it is another tremendous release by one of our greatest artists. Tell Tale Signs features unreleased recordings and alternate versions of studio sessions & unreleased live performances from the last two decades. Songs like Most Of The Time and Mississippi are completely different and are, usually, as impressive as the versions found on his studio albums. And it’s Dylan so one can expect to hear the usual number of previously recorded songs omitted from studio albums that are as good as or surpass most of the songs found on the original studio releases.

2. The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 9: 1969 – Hip-O Select/Motown

Like esteemed writer and blogger David Cantwell has said, “these aren’t just collections, they are family heirlooms.” Pricey, yes. But wonderfully packaged and with great sound. This 6-CD, 148-track, 42-artist collection contains every A & B side of every Motown single released in 1969. The Motown catalog speaks for itself. People will still be listening to some of these recordings a hundred years from now.

3. Talkin’ About Ike: The Essential Works Of Ike Turner – Vol. 1: You Sure Could Do – P-Vine

Terrific release featuring 50s recordings by various artists that feature Ike Turner on guitar and/or as a producer. Artists such as Howlin’ Wolf, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Richard Berry, Betty Everett, and Otis Rush are all represented here. Sure, you probably won’t be able to read the liner notes because they are in Japanese but the song lyrics are all in English.

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Favorite Compilations Of 2008

There have been a number of top 10 favorite releases for 2008 posted by KDHX DJs. I thought I’d try something different and share some of my favorite compilations that were put out in 2008. I’m only scratching the surface here but that’s the nature of Top 10 lists, anyway. Or, in this case, a Top 7 list. Suffice it to say that I think any one of these compilations yield an overabundance of musical gems.

1. Take Me to the River: A Southern Soul Story 1961-1977 – Kent UK

If there is a better introduction and retrospective to southern soul than this 3-CD compilation, I sure haven’t heard it. Southern soul classics mixed with rarities and accompanied with a 72-page hardcover booklet. It’s done by the folks at Kent UK so it’s a given that the sound and packaging is topnotch.

2. Oxford American 10th Anniversary Southern Music CDs – Oxford American

Every year, Oxford American magazine puts out an issue devoted to southern music. The latest issue (with Jerry Lee Lewis on the cover) is their 10th anniversary and comes with two CDs of music tangentially related to southern music. These CDs include a myriad of different artists and musical genres from recordings spanning over seventy years. So much wonderful music on here and quite a bit from artists I have never heard before. Then when you factor in the magazine, itself, with music writing by the likes of writers such as Peter Guralnick, what are you waiting for? Available at fine booksellers near you.

3. The Wire: And All the Pieces Matter — Five Years of Music from The Wire – Nonesuch

This compilation perfectly intersperses music tracks with dialogue from five years of the finest television series ever made. This compilation manages to capture the essence of the show which is not an easy task. Artists ranging from Jesse Winchester, Tom Waits, & The Pogues to DJ Technics, Lafayette Gilchrist, & Blind Boys of Alabama are sequenced in a way where it all makes sense. Most of the snippets of dialogue included, however, are not likely to be FCC-approved anytime, soon.

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