Radio Free Athens’ Doug Brooks with his guest DJ, his son, Raad. (Submitted)

Top Tunes ’16: Doug “R@T” Brooks of Radio Free Athens

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This is yet another installment of a December-long series that examines what Athens-centric tune heads have been jamming to all year long. Keep tabs on the series throughout the month here

I have purchased quite a bit of music this year. I think one of the reasons that I did buy so much music is because I found myself frequently turning off my radio and television because of the political mayhem that took the civility out of democracy. Music has been a way to get away from all of that. It has also been an influence on my shows. This year’s list also includes the influence of my son Raad, who I was happy to have as a guest DJ with me this year.

I have broken my list down in to three categories: stuff that blew my mind, stuff that I loved and stuff that I have been so busy that I have not been able to listen to very well but I have liked what I heard.

The stuff that blew my mind:

Lydia Loveless – Real

Probably my favorite recording of this year.

Lucius – Good Grief

This was one of Raad’s favorite car CD’s this year.

EarwigPause for the Jets

Lizard and James were on my show. If you get there then you have made it.

TancredOut of the Garden

Nirvana meets Liz Phair is the way that I have described this.

Dwight YoakamSwimmin’ Pools and Movie Stars

The version of “Purple Rain” on this is worth listening to over and over.

St. Paul & the Broken Bones – Sea of Noise

They have gotten better with age.

Empire of the SunTwo Vines

Synth-Pop that reminds me of the late ’80s and early ’90s. The “guilty pleasure” of the year.

Leonard CohenYou Want It Darker

Prophetic first track.

Bon Iver22, A Million

Great music but a puzzle in trying to figure out track names.

The stuff that I have loved:

Hope Sandoval and the Warm InventionsUntil the Hunter

Nick Cave and the Bad SeedsSkeleton Tree

Bob MouldPatch the Sky

Band of HorsesWhy Are You OK?

Black MountainIV

Tim EastonAmerican Fork

Aaron Lee TasjanSilver Tears

Andrew BirdAre You Serious

American Football II

The too busy to listen to critically but I liked what I heard list:

PhishBig Boat

The Dandy Warhols – Distortland

MetallicaHardwired to Self Destruct

Macy Gray – Stripped

Events of the year:

My first show at The Union after the re-opening. I was pleasantly surprised at what The Union has become. I am old enough to remember when the upstairs bar was in the center of the room. I have seen three decades of shows there and am happy that there will be plenty more.

– The Washboard Festival in Logan. A very cool little festival that features the humble washboard that is still made in Logan. Washboard Hank from Canada was awesome.

– Water Witches and Water Liars at Casa Cantina. A small show that could have been the best I saw this year.

The granddaddy of them all still has to be the Nelsonville Music Festival. I am heading in to my ninth year of volunteering for it because I believe in what this festival stands for. Keeping it small, family friendly and bringing some of the best music that you can see for an affordable price here in Southeast Ohio.

My Best of the Best:


For those of us who are not connected, downloading and streaming our music, one of the best places for us to buy CD’s and vinyl is our local, independently-owned music store. My version of Radio Free Athens would not be possible without the help of the great people at Haffa’s on Union Street here in Athens. Andrew and his staff have gone out or their way to get me the music that I want so that I can share it with you on Saturdays. Support your local music store!

And now for the last of the best: Radio Free Athens. I am biased in this because I have been doing it for at least 10 years. Live free-form radio is a rare thing these days. Radio shows that let the DJ’s to pick diverse music styles is almost unheard of. Fortunately we have Radio Free Athens that airs Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. It is produced by music obsessed community volunteers and OU students who have a diversity of tastes.

Doug “R@T” Brooks is a former Ohio University student, a current teacher, longtime Nelsonville Music Festival volunteer and a host of Radio Free Athens.