Best Of 2016: Cheryl Pawelski of Omnivore Recordings

Published on December 23rd, 2016 in: Best Of Lists, Books, Movies, Music |


Ten Good Things… in a kinda cruddy year (not really in any order, sorta):

1. Some new record releases that were thrilling in 2016:
David Bowie, Blackstar
Wilco, Schmilco
Syd Arthur, Apracity
King, We Are King
Parquet Courts, Human Performance
Kendrick Lamar, untitled unmastered
A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
Emitt Rhodes, Rainbow Ends
Case/Lang/Veirs, Case/Lang/Veirs
Mudcrutch, Mudcrutch 2
Hamilton soundtrack
John Beasley, Monk’Estra Vol. 1
Eric Bachman, Eric Bachman
Luther Dickinson, Blues & Ballads
Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide To Earth
East Of Venus, Memory Box
Still making sense out of Bon Iver’s 22, A Million (but I think I like it a lot) and still can’t stop listening to The Epic by Kamasi Washington, a 2015 release but a towering achievement!

2. Reissues, boxed sets & previously unissued music that I was happy to hear, happier to own:
Crooked Fingers, Crooked Fingers and Bring On The Snakes reissues
Midlake, The Trials Of Van Occupanther 10th Anniversary Edition
The three-LP “Loser Edition” of Wolf Parade’s Apologies To The Queen Mary
The Crowded House catalog reissued in deluxe fashion
Fleetwood Mac, Mirage (finally!)
David Bowie, Who Can I Be Now?
Gillian Welch, Boots No. 1
Art Pepper & Warne Marsh, Unreleased Art Vol. 9: Live At Donte’s; April 26, 1974
My Morning Jacket, It Still Moves (deluxe edition)
Patti Smith, Horses: Live Electric Lady Studios
The Meters, A Message From The Meters: The Complete Josie, Reprise & Warner Bros. Singles 1968-1977

3. Various Artist compilations that make me glad that in the digital/Internet/technology-will-be-the-end-of-humankind era we live in, curation of various artist compilations still happens:
Celestial Blues: Cosmic, Political And Spiritual Jazz 1970-1974
The Girls Want The Boys! Sweden’s Beat Girls 1966-1970
Tanbou Toujou Lou, Haiti 1960-1981
Various Artists, (The Microcosm): Visionary Music Of Continental Europe 1970-1986

4. Favorite records that I produced or worked on (that finally came out in 2016), of which I’m particularly proud:
Big Star, Complete Third
NRBQ, High Noon: A 50-Year Retrospective
Judy Henske & Jerry Yester, Farewell Aldebaran
Game Theory, Lolita Nation and The Big Shot Chronicles
JD Souther, John David Souther; Black Rose; and Home By Dawn
The Crowded House deluxe reissues
Buddy Guy & Junior Wells, The Criteria Sessions

5. Best shows of the year (no order, all awesome):
Emitt Rhodes, Grammy Museum
Systema Solar, SXSW
Lucius, SXSW
The Bangles & The Muffs at the Whisky
Case/Lang/Veirs at the Greek
Three nights of Wilco at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel
Judy Henske & Jerry Yester, at both the Grammy Museum & McCabe’s and Jimmy Webb actually performing on a lovely summer evening in MacArthur Park!
And this just in: sneak Beyonce performance at the Lemonade screening with a full all-female band complete with strings, horns and background vocalists!

6. Music books that were super cool:
Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run
Robbie Robertson, Testimony
Guy Clark, Without Getting Killed Or Caught: The Life And Music Of Guy Clark
Trouble Boys: The True Story Of The Replacements
Patti Smith, M Train
Under The Big Black Sun: A Personal History Of L.A. Punk

7. More about Bruce’s book Born To Run:
As a life-long Bruce fan, the surprise of an autobiography (both book and audiobook!) and accompanying book tour, was a bit mind boggling. Coolest thing? None of it sucked, in fact, the book is charming, funny, arresting, insightful, honest and human. While I and a truckload of other super nerds would have liked more insight into the recordings and songwriting, a book by Bruce was something I never thought I’d see. Just like all his musical work in the past, Born To Run is life affirming and a place from which to draw inspiration in difficult times. We all deserve some transcendent rock and roll as we peer over the edge of 2017, I find some of mine here.

8. Runner up in Bruce-ville
The release of the Christic Benefit shows from November of 1990. It was my first Bruce show as a fresh L.A. resident (I was there the 17th). A mind-blower in that he had not performed solo since the early 1970s—before he had a record deal with Columbia. He was nervous, but still managed to debut brilliant new songs like “Real World” and “Soul Driver” among others. The solo versions of these songs performed on these two nights, remain the definitive versions. Extra bonus, a photo by Greg Allen, my partner at Omnivore adorns the cover of the Nugs release!

9. Music Film: The Beatles, Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years
Never having had a chance to see The Beatles live (I don’t think I’ll be able to say this for much longer, but I’m too young to have seen The Beatles live), it was a treat to see this documentary in the theater. The film itself was fun, but the really great part of motivating my ass to the theater (and not waiting for streaming, on-demand, Blu-Ray, DVD or whatever method the ones and zeros bring us our entertainment these days as we calcify on our couches), was seeing the bonus concert at Shea Stadium on the big screen. It was large, it was loud, and it was glorious good fun!

10. Favorite album design/packages
I love music. I love it so much, I made it my life’s work. I also love all the things music comes in—the packaging, the artifact. Yeah, yeah, I know, streaming. Whatever. I really like all my cool records and don’t really like the idea of renting music. Just ain’t for me. I love art, photography, liner notes, and package design and how powerfully they co-mingle with music, each amplifying each other.

A few I dug the most this year were…
David Bowie, Who Can I Be Now? LP set
Various Artists, Waxing The Gospel: Mass Evangelism & The Phonograph 1890-1900
Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool deluxo-LP/CD
Sloan, One Chord To Another LP/45 set
Grateful Dead, July 1978: The Complete Recordings
Pearl Jam, Live At Third Man Records vault package
The Band, The Last Waltz 40th Anniversary

Check out our reviews of 2016 releases from Ominvore Recordings.

In Case You Missed It: February 7 – 13, 2016

Published on February 13th, 2016 in: Blu-Ray, DVD/Blu-Ray Reviews, ICYMI, Movies, Music, Pro Wrestling, TV |

By Less Lee Moore

James Spader in Jack’s Back

In Case You Missed It…

Over at Dirge Magazine, they’re celebrating Violentime’s Day all week. What is Violentime’s Day you ask? Here’s an explanation.

Do you like listicles? Yeah, you can admit it. Here are 8 Horror Movie Couples To Make You Question Your Relationship, 8 Sexy Songs For Romancing The Dead, and Love Songs That Aren’t Actually Love Songs, if you’re feeling snarky.

I’m jonesing for James Spader in my review of Scream Factory’s excellent reissue of Jack’s Back. (Seriously. So dreamy!)

On the TV landscape, we’ve got reviews of The X-Files, Lucha Underground, and the new WGN America show Outsiders.

Looking for new music this week? Unicorn Booty’s got you covered.

Speaking of music, have you ever heard of the song “The Boiler” by The Special AKA with Rhonda Dakar? It’s the first pop song about rape and it was released in 1982.

Could Kendrick Lamar beat Michael Jackson at this year’s Grammys? Here’s why that’s a thing that could happen and why it’s worth talking about.

Everyone’s talking about The Satanic Temple lately, especially after they praised Robert Eggers’ new flick The Witch. Here are 6 ways The Satanic Temple has trolled the religious right.

What happened this week on Today In Pop Culture? Sal Mineo, Ziggy Stardust, The Virgin Mary, G.I. Joe, and The Beatles.

Today in Pop Culture: Lots Of Stuff!

Published on December 31st, 2015 in: Comics, Music, Today In Pop Culture |

By Jeffery X Martin


It’s the end of the year and as we look back through pop culture history, this is a big day! Lots of things happened, and it’s hard to pick just one. Therefore, I’m not going to. Why do hard things? Ugh. So here’s a quick list of interesting things that happened on December 31st!


Today in Pop Culture: Circuitbreakers

Published on December 8th, 2015 in: Music, Today In Pop Culture |

By Jeffery X Martin\


Today is the day that John Lennon was shot to death outside the Chelsea by some asshole who seriously misinterpreted The Catcher in the Rye. I’ve read that book. I missed the part about killing rock stars.


Music Review: Various Artists, The Magical Mystery Psych Out – A Tribute To The Beatles

Published on March 13th, 2015 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Retrovirus, Reviews |

By Melissa Bratcher


It must be more than a bit daunting to cover the Beatles. They’re The Beatles for the love of Pete, the alpha and the omega, the ones from whom everything good sprung, the band that changed everything. (True fact: I once was friends with a woman who said, “I don’t really like the Beatles.” I realized from that moment that she was a horrible person and I couldn’t be friends with her anymore. And I wasn’t.)


In Memory Of: Bill Bartell, a.k.a. Pat Fear of White Flag

Published on September 26th, 2013 in: Eulogy, Music |

By Less Lee Moore

Photo by Patrick Houdek

When I heard the news that Bill Bartell had died, I felt like I’d been kicked in the guts. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to a world without him in it.

I first met Bill in 1994, when White Flag played a show in New Orleans. The exact date and location escapes me (but no doubt, Bill, with his insanely proficient memory would remember). I went with a friend and we both wore Redd Kross T-shirts in an attempt to “impress” him. Haha, if only I had known.


Music Review: Ty Segall, Twins

Published on October 9th, 2012 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, New Music Tuesday, Reviews |

By Less Lee Moore

ty segall twins album art

Despite being astonishingly prolific, I’ve only gotten wise to Ty Segall‘s musical output recently; my album intro was June’s Slaughterhouse, performed with Segall’s touring band (reviewed here). Hearing Twins, recorded almost entirely by Segall himself, has proved he’s not a one trick pony. Twins hits the sweet spot between heavy guitar fuzz and pretty melodies and is immediately, deliriously enjoyable.

That’s not to say Twins is full of disposable pop songs. In these post-post-ironic times, it’s not uncommon for music fans to feel distrustful of something they like immediately, concerned about being manipulated by both our nostalgia and the desire for something that’s not a rip-off.


20/20, 20/20 and Look Out! Reissues

Published on September 4th, 2012 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, New Music Tuesday, Reviews |

By Cait Brennan

Before Pete Townshend even coined the term, power pop has been competing for oxygen—airplay, respect, dollars, a place in history—with bloaty classic rock. Virtually every interminable flatulent hour of every ponderous wanking jam-band guitar solo on every tiresome, self-indulgent, derivative, larcenous, mystic-hokum junkie 1960s blues-rock “gods” album has been catalogued, compiled, reissued, remixed, remastered, etched into 180 gram virgin vinyl, and shoved into soul-deadening collectible box sets like the rigor mortis museum pieces they are. Meanwhile, some of the most vital music of the rock era, made by great power pop, New Wave and American hard-pop bands, sits forgotten in zombie record label vaults, as the iron oxide tape slowly peels away to dust.

Thankfully, there are still some boutique record labels, run by actual music lovers instead of actuaries, willing to raid those vaults and bring forth musical treasure. So it is with Real Gone Music’s lovingly assembled reissue of 20/20’s acclaimed Portrait albums, 20/20 and Look Out!, two records that helped redefine American rock music at the turn of the 1980s. And they sound as vital as ever.


Booker T. & The M.G.s: A Sweet, Sweet Serving of Green Onions

Published on August 28th, 2012 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, New Music Tuesday, Retrovirus, Reviews |

By John Lane

booker t green onions

Yes, Virginia, back in the ancient times of the mystical 1960s, there was a universe that expanded far beyond The Beatles, even though they were heaven-sent. While The Beatles were decompressing after playing to a kajillion people at Shea Stadium or elsewhere, I guarantee you that somewhere in their collective mind were the righteous sounds of Booker T. & The M.G.s taking them to a soulful place.


Whitejacket, Hollows And Rounds

Published on April 25th, 2012 in: Current Faves, Music, Reviews |

By Jemiah Jefferson

whitejacket cover

The debut solo album from former Apples in stereo member Chris McDuffie has a proud “no synths” rule. Instead of Moog, it offers up plenty of jaunty piano, tambourines, and an earnest guitar that wouldn’t find itself out of place on Let It Be. The Beatles comparisons are not only obvious, but apparently welcome; but rather than shooting for the McCartney wink-and-nod, this album hews closer to the thoughtfulness of All Things Must Pass-era George Harrison. And yet there’s a silly love song, because there must be.

McDuffie clearly loves his early ’70s AM radio sound, more hand claps than anthems, and more lyrically sophisticated than the Bay City Rollers. Would it be out of place to say that this album sounds a lot like Canadian party-rock pastiche masters Sloan? I don’t think Sloan would think so . . . and notable track “Medinah” (click to playclick to play) features densely layered vocal tracks, McDuffie singing along hypnotically with a chorus of himself.

Hollows and Rounds sounds brainy and measured, but comfortable; it breaks no new ground, but encourages the listener to find the new in the same familiar sound.

Hollows and Rounds was released on April 3 and is available to download from Amazon and in physical format and download from CDBaby. For more information check out the Whitejacket website.