2023 Wrap-Up – An Xperience Column

Written by on December 5, 2023

2023 Wrap-Up – An Xperience Column – by Johnny Mystery.

Yeah, so as I write these words, a cold wind is blowing, and The Beatles and The Stones are riding high on the pop charts. Makes me wonder what Gerry and The Pacemakers are doing these days. Really tough, at this point I’m not telling you something you don’t already know but as we go further into this very unremarkable century we live in, things continue to get stranger. I mean in every aspect. The fact is, having two 60-year-old bands with new music in the charts, seems like a sad comment on everything else getting played in the hot 100. Either that or the Baby Boomers just have more disposable income or have gotten more adept to finding and downloading music for free.

Nevertheless, here are some noteworthy songs I’ve uncovered this year, new or otherwise, that deserve your attention. They certainly got mine.

The 5678’s- Batman/You May Dream– These ladies from Tokyo never disappoint me. We were lucky enough to have them playing in Troy over the Summer. I didn’t get to see them but from all accounts, they did a spectacular show. I’m assuming Batman is the A side of this 45. You know the song; you love the song. It sounds just as you’d expect it to sound, with a bit of their own spin. Some interesting, intertwined melodies and really fun vocals. Easy to sing along with as the only lyric is “Batman.” “You May Dream” is a ballad of sorts and quite different from what they normally play. The lyrics are sung in their native Japanese but even if you don’t understand the words you will enjoy! Get this record while it’s relatively cheap. Once the secondary market gets it, you’ll be blowing the grocery money.

The Amplifier Heads- When We Go Home Again– Now you might think with a name like The Amplifier Heads, they would sound like Deep Purple. Nothing could be further from the truth. These guys sound like a cross between R.E.M. and Dumptruck , with a bit of Camper Van Beethoven. In other words, we are talking some serious 80’s ,90’s alternative here and it’s done with taste. It’s all about going back to your hometown the way it used to be and it’s happy!! My only complaint is that it’s only a bit over two minutes. Songs this great need to be a little longer. This sounds like a summer day.

Justine And The Unclean-The Signal Light– This song will unfortunately be one of the last efforts we’ll hear from this band. Their leader and lead vocalist, Justine Covault, passed away suddenly from natural causes this spring. Justine was also the owner of Red On Red Records in Boston. This is a great label which won’t continue either. The Swedish band, Stupidity, have several releases on Red On Red as well as many others. Signal Light got some good airplay on the indie shows. I love the surfy, vibrato guitar line that runs through this rocker and this band and label will be missed.

The Cherry Drops- Magically Delicious– From the West Coast comes The Cherry Drops and this tune is as 1967 psychedelic as you can get in our time. Another big player on indie radio and for good reason. This ain’t no Lucky Charms either. It’s got a catchy melody, clean guitar all the way through, played masterfully. Listen to that mellow Farfisa organ keeping it all glued together. It’s got hooks galore and even more. It’s one of my favorite records this year. Look for it and I bet you can’t listen just once.
The Headless Horseman- Can’t Help But Shake- These guys are the real deal and this is the title track from what might be their only album. I know practically zilch about them, probably because they are long gone as this record is from 1988. How did I miss this anyway? It’s bluesy garage at its finest. Snooty vocals, great songs and guitar driven melodies. In fact, I highly recommend the entire album. They go from sounding like The Dave Clark Five to Jefferson Airplane in a snap. Quick songs and to the point are the way rock should be and these boys follow it to a T….

The Circulators-Can’t Get My Way– This seems to be a new release and it looks like it’s a cassette. It’s so obvious these guys are Dead Boys fans and it’s like 1977 all over again. I ain’t complaining, are you? There should be a band like this in every town and they should be playing every weekend in a club that has a men’s room like CBGB’s. I have yet to find this release but believe me I will!!

Just a bit off subject before we finish up here. Be on the lookout for Syracuse band 145 to come back into town sometime soon. Led by guitarist Paul Armstrong from the legendary band The Flashcubes, they are old school punk and not ashamed about it one bit. As if they should be in the first place. We got to share the stage with them twice this year and if I got anything to say about it, we’ll play with them again. Any band that kicks off their set with “God Save The Queen” and ends it with “Chinese Rocks” is in my good graces forever!
So, let’s look forward to 2024. Have the greatest holiday ever and give the gift of music this year….


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