Doug “R@T” Brooks and his son, Raad, sitting in WOUB’s AM studio for an installment of Radio Free Athens. (Submitted)

Top Tunes ’17: Doug ‘R@T’ Brooks

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Who can believe it? Another year has come and gone, leaving but memories of records beloved past! This is the first in an ongoing holiday season series for WOUB, in which some of the area’s favorite music nerds share what moved them, musically, in the year 2017. 

Doug “R@T” Brooks is one of the folks behind WOUB’s beloved 1340 AM Saturday radio show, Radio Free Athens. 

2017 has been a strange year.  If I had to choose one word that could describe this year it would be loss. Loss on many levels.  The loss of civility, the loss of great artists, the loss of good friends, and of course the loss of Haffa’s Records. Fortunately there had not been a loss of good music.

It is always hard to pick a best recording of the year.  There are so many that are good for different reasons.  If there was one record that spent more time in my CD players, (yes, I still use CD’s) it would be Sarah Shook and the Disarmers’ Sidelong. Great country/rock from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  hey played at this year’s Nelsonville Music Festival and were great. I had the chance to meet Sarah and John at The Fest and they were cool people as well.

Another top album of the year was Ron Gallo’s Heavy Meta. Great straight up rock. He too played The Fest this year and was amazing.

Local artists Water Witches put out their second release called Halcyon. It is as good, if not better, than their first release.

I was not sure what to expect when I heard that Body Count was putting a new album out this year. When I got Blood Lust I was not disappointed. They still have the metal-rap thing down.

Tinariwen’s release Elwan was probably the one recording that surprised me the most this year.  I still put it in when I am driving around and need to contemplate something.

The National released Sleep Well Beast. I love the sort of moodiness of their sound and this one kept that feeling. It has been getting lots of air play on Radio Free Athens.

Arcade Fire’s Everything Now is not their best release but has many great tracks. I heard someone describe the title track as Arcade Fire channeling their inner ABBA.

Greta Van Fleet is a band of three siblings and another person who put out an EP called Black Smoke Rising. When you hear the first track it is hard not to make a comparison to Led Zeppelin. The band has obviously been influenced by Zeppelin and they do it well.

I really started listening to Conor Oberst this year because of his appearance at The Nelsonville Music Festival. His release this year called Salutations are many of the songs from Ruminations done with a full band and other material. At first I was not sure that I liked it but is has grown on me.

In Spades is this year’s Afghan Whigs record. It is pretty typical Afghan Whigs. It is another of the records released this year that I was not sure of when I first heard it but it too has grown on me.

Some other releases that I liked this year were Willie Nelson’s God’s Problem Child, Trombone Shorty’s Parking Lot Symphony and LCD Soundsystem’s American Dream.

I did not see too many shows this year as I head further in to the world of being a curmudgeon. The top of the list of what I did see still has to be The Nelsonville Music Festival. Being able to see Ween so close to home and to dance to They Might Be Giant’s “Particle Man” with my son, Raad, on Friday was perfect.

Cracker was great at The People’s Bank Theater in Marietta. They could have played much longer in my opinion but cut it short to make way for Soul Asylum who I found to be disappointing. It was my first show at the theater and it was a great experience. A beautiful small theater that was staffed by very friendly people.

Perhaps the most significant music related event to me was the closing of Haffa’s records. (See Emily Votaw’s piece on the WOUB website.) I will miss it greatly. It made doing Radio Free Athens so much easier. I spent a lot of time this year trying to buy as much music as I could. Getting new stuff and older stuff that I either did not have or had on cassette that went bad. For some reason I bought a lot of Buddy Guy.

Let’s hope for a better 2018.