Top Tunes ’18: Michael T.

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Wow! 2018 has come and gone, and it’s about time we reflect on our favorite sounds of the past year. Leading up through the end of the year, WOUB Culture will be spotlighting what various music-centric people throughout the region have been enjoying the most for the past 12 months.

In addition to stints as tour manager, promoter and independent record label director, Michael Tedesco has performed in the U.S. and Europe with Robert Fripp & the League/Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists and Trap Door. When not hosting Radio Free Athens on WOUB 1340 AM, he can be found doing multimedia and IT support for Ohio University.

Michael T. (Submitted)

Michael T’s. Top Tunes 2018

Album of The Year: Caroline RoseLoner

“Now you’re in real life…”

In the time since 2014’s I Will Not Be Afraid, Caroline Rose has forged an epic worthy of the best new wave and punk records of an era she is far too young to remember. While Loner evokes the power-pop of Blondie with the irreverence of the B-52s, it does so without being derivative; this is a uniquely original, contemporary agitprop masterpiece.

“If you can’t say it in under three minutes, it probably isn’t worth saying” is one tenet of the punk ethos that Caroline owns. She takes all of 2:15 to expertly summarize the current international political situation in the crazed surf-rocker “Money” and just 2:29 to skewer patriarchy in “Bikini.” There is not a throwaway on this record, and as with all great albums, each song eventually becomes your new favorite. It is impossible to ignore Caroline’s songwriting prowess on the melancholic “More of the Same” or the perfect “Jeannie Becomes a Mom,” both as good as any pop song you ever heard. Loner deserves to be emanating from transmitters all over the planet.


Best Debut: BodegaEndless Scroll

Art-rock is alive and well, and Iggy Pop just had a baby with Delta 5. NYC’s Bodega lays waste to the mindless consumerism of our screen-addicted, entertainment-saturated culture.
Simultaneously funny yet deadly serious, Bodega’s message is succinct and merciless:

“As you smugly walk past (the demonstration) you ask yourself ‘how did this happen’?” or “Have you heard the latest single by the so and the so’s?”. “This machine… it don’t kill fascists. This machine… it’s just a guitar” Endless Scroll is a killer debut that reminds us what rock ‘n’ roll was about in the first place: shaking up the existing order.


Rising Star New Release: Megan WrenSympathetic Vibrations

The depth and maturity of the six songs on Megan Wren’s debut EP belie her 21 years. Aiming higher than many of her peers, the Cincinnati singer/songwriter/guitarist eschews cynical hip posturing and opts instead for songs of triumph and optimism (“Someone New” and “Come Home”) or reassurance (“Lost Control”). Like her spiritual parents Stevie Nicks and Paul McCartney, Megan’s songs have the melody and hooks to keep them in your head hours after you hear them.
 But it’s not all sweetness and light – Megan is also unafraid to explore the emotional disconnect engendered by her generation’s feel-nothing-at-all-costs personal relationship strategy. Delivering brutal truths like “you’ll leave in the morning and these flowers will die, and I’ll be left alone to sit and wonder why” (“Wonder Why”) or “Everybody’s saying we got problems, nobody wants to do anything about them” (“First to Shoot”), she has often reduced listeners to tearful, stunned silence at her live shows. Megan Wren is a talented and honest force to be reckoned with and absolutely for real.


Best News of the Year: King Crimson announces US tour dates for 2019.


So Glad You Did That: St. Vincent delivers a MassEducation

After five albums and more than a decade of experimentation and collaboration, it’s easy to think that Annie Clark’s continuing success is the result of superb musicality, flawless vocals and hard work. But by stripping the production, synthesizers and beats from last year’s Masseduction, leaving only her voice and Thomas Bartlett’s piano playing, St. Vincent reminds us that it is always about the song. In many respects, this is her best album to date. If you need convincing, try “Lost Ageless” or the stunning “Happy Birthday, Johnny.”


Best Re-Release: Captain Beyond – Lost & Found 1972-1973

Captain Beyond is still the best rock supergroup you don’t know.  Like their astonishing 1972 debut, this disc also slipped under the radar last year. These are the recently-rediscovered demos that stunned Duane Allman into insisting his manager sign them immediately, along with two new songs from the original band. Comprised of escapees from Deep Purple, Iron Butterfly, and Johnny Winter’s band, armed with just the basic rock elements of a single guitar, bass and drums, the two most common opinions of this group are “never heard of them” followed quickly by “this is one of my favorite bands.”
 Signed to the fledgling Capricorn record label just before The Allman Brothers Band blew up (inadvertently diverting resources away from what was arguably just as good a band), Captain Beyond’s stunning debut at the 1972 Montreux Jazz Festival remains the only visual record of them in action. Come for the 5/7-time signatures, stay for the psychedelic space Latin jazz hard rock. If you like Led Zeppelin, Blue Oyster Cult or any of the other classic-rockers you need to know about Captain Beyond, even 45 years after the fact.