BACKTALK ~ Letters to the Editor (that’s me I think)

FROM: Marcus in some town North of Austin TX
Hey Steve,

Just came across yr blog and you said to write to you, and I’m guessing you meant specifically me, so here I am. Really dig yr blog – around this time of yr, I’m always digging into everyone else’s “best ___ of the year lists” to see what I missed, and I’ve been digging into bandcamp like never before. There’s so much stuff there, though, that I can’t really deal w/it, so I’m glad I came across yr blog.

I grew up in San Diego and went to a ton of shows as a kid, but after graduating from college, I moved to small town of about 7,000 in Texas, about 100 miles north of Austin. I try to make it out to a show or two a year, but now I have to live my pursuit of music online instead of in person.

Anyways, I don’t have a blog to post my favorites of 2018, and most of my Twitter account (@marcusSDTX) is dedicated to baseball and pictures of my kids, so I’ll share my best of list with you (you didn’t tell me *what* to write to you about, so I guess I’ll go w/this).

1. Brian Fallon – Sleepwalkers (I’m a big Gaslight Anthem fan and ’59 Sound is a top 5 all time record for me, so no small wonder I dig this – his was also one of the few shows I made it down to Austin for this yr)
2. Smoking Popes – Into The Agony (I actually bought tix for their show in Austin last month, but got sick and couldn’t make it, huge bummer. This is my fav record of theirs since Destination Failure)
3. Dark Thoughts – At Work (This is a bandcamp find that I’ve been listening to non-stop, which is a bit weird because they’re Ramones worshippers and I’ve never been *that* into that band, even though they’re punk rock legends)
4. Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens (I’m a fan of all of John Reis’ bands – Rocket From The Crypt, Sultans, The Night Marchers, etc., so no surprise I’m into this as well)
5. The Beths – Future Me Hates Me (Another bandcamp find that has wormed into my ear. My iTunes library is woefully short on female-fronted groups, so I was glad to find this one)
6. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs (I listened to this on a whim while on vacation in San Diego over the summer and bought it from my favorite record shop, and while definitely a beach-y vibe, it’s still good for a listen while driving in Texas in the wintertime)
7. Mean Friends – Secondhand Grenade (this is my friend’s band in San Diego, they’ve played a few shows and put out a few songs and I think I’m still the only “supporter” who shows up on bandcamp)
8. The Hold Steady – The Stove & The Toaster and Esther singles (THS could’ve put eight songs onto an EP or added a few more for an album, but they put out a few singles w/B sides instead. I don’t love all of em, but “The Stove and the Toaster” and “Esther” are really good)
9. Leon Bridges – Beyond (His debut album was in my top 5 of the year a few years ago, but I didn’t get into his latest one that much at all. Still, “Beyond” is a slow jam that I very much dig)
10. Willie Nelson – Vote ‘Em Out (I listened to this song almost every day before the midterms, but unfortunately, my fellow voters didn’t vote the way I was hoping, and I haven’t put it back on since then)

Anyways, I’m looking forward to reading more of your lists and digging into future and past posts. I’ve already really dug that band from Turkey (the country, not the food), and have done a few searches to see if I could find an update on Briscoe from last yrs list.

Keep up the good work, have a great December and a happy new year.

-Marcus

_________________________________________________________________________

Heyyo Marcus,

Thanks for writing! You’re letter finds me well, but a bit tired.

I often refer to bandcamp as the trash heap of online music. There’s just so much trash, but if you get a tetanus shot and start digging through it, you’ll probably find something pretty good. That’s what I’m trying to do, and I’m glad you appreciate it. That means a lot to me.

Awesome list! I hope my readers can find some cool stuff in there. It was a great year for the Smoking Popes. Too bad you missed them. I haven’t seen them either, but I did see Hot Snakes at Upstream Fest, back in June. I do admit though (without shame) that I left their set about half way through to get myself a good spot at the JAWBREAKER stage, and I’m sorry-not-sorry to say my favo band of all time kind of out-shined Hot Snakes. Maybe it’s not fair to compare them to the highlight of my life though.

Anyway, thanks again for writing, and may you find all of the raddest releases in 2019!
Keep fighting the good fight,
-SD

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