Friday, December 20, 2013

News and Reviews 2013

Another year has passed. I've been blogging Arcane Radio Trivia for over 8 years since my debut in April of 2005. As of this date, that works out to more than  2,100 posts. It's a time-consuming hobby.  My bookshelves and file cabinets are bursting with research materials. I get contacted by audio geeks, collector wonks and radio devotees. It was a banner year, I changed jobs, moved and survived it all. As is tradition, the time has come to reflect and review.  It's a good time to look at my previous top 10s, and "Best Of" lists.You can see previous years lists at the links below:

2012 2011
2010 2009
2008 2007
2006 2005

Best Posts:
I did my first readers survey this year which was enlightening. I was pleased with my self-restraint when writing about the invention of the vacuum back in January here.  I do enjoy a good tangent. My interview with Mark Speer was awesome. I researched the etymology of the word "wire" for personal enrichment. One post on Wrist-Mounted radio's reminded me about the word of toy radios. One of my favorites was my list of all known record sizes though nobody else seemed to care. I also spent weeks making a canonical jazz radio servicing list here.

Most Popular Posts:
My most popular post since 2009 has been a post about Peter Tripp. It continues to deliver a traffic as random trivia websites recycle their content. Thank you Reddit. Similarly a 2010 post on Barn Dance programs remains popular. It's also notable that my 2007 post on the Career Academy of Famous Broadcasters continues to earn comments from it's former students. My posts seem to get discovered in their own due time. I did take a readers advice (from the survey) and branched out into more articles about radio abroad and have been richly rewarded with thousands of hits on one about 1940s Spain (here) and one on PJ Wodehouse here.

Best Music Blogs:
Many of my favorite music blogs have fallen by the wayside leading me to believe this outlet may have passed it's Renaissance. The last blog standing from my old standby list is Shiny Grey Monotone. My favorite blog aggregator has become a river of 80s disco synth and has lost its knack for finding new tunes. The blogs Noise for Zeros and Compressed Maniac sometimes unearth gems, but I've had great luck with Phoenix Hairpins lately.

Best Concert:
I saw a Canadian group called Slam Dunk kind of by accident. I went to see Built To Spill and those canuks just ate them for breakfast. Everyone in the room knew all of Built To Spill's singles and covering a Metallica song was clever.. but Slam Dunk came in as total unknowns in a podunk town and killed it like cult leaders taking the podium after the Kool-Aid is passed around. They were the voice-cracking rock preamble you need after the hubcap full of beer and before the parking lot full of puke.

Best Radio Show: 
This was a truly unexpected program. The program Polka Changed My Life Today, airs weekly on WRUW 91.1 in Cleveland. It's hosted by Andrew Votaw. He has hopes of revitalizing the polka scene in his area. In application his mix of local, classic and obscure European polka makes for a mix unlike anything you have heard in your life. I had hopes of interviewing this polka savant but never established contact. More here.

Best Radio Station:
I find most new tunes these days just browsing They have fulfilled every empty promise that made a decade ago. It's not a radio station but I so badly want to port them to my Roku and just stream obscure punk rock straight into my stereo system. Their library is a full exponential order bigger and more interesting than Pandora but funding would be difficult. On the other hand... unsigned bands are a lot less picky about royalty negotiations.

Best Record Store:
This year I've done a fair amount of pillaging at a small and relatively new shoppe called Bohozone. They have a really nice jazz section and a great little library of classic hip literature. I've more or less been looting it. I've also scored a few good sides at Deep Groove Audio.  The rest of this years scores have all been from fleamarkets.

Best Zine: 
The most nifty little zine I've seen this year is a tiny little 4 page folded 8.5 x 11 zine called "Professionals." It showed up in a record box with some LPs I ordered from a store in Massachusetts.they have no web presence of any kind. they have a circulation of 750 copies, and they're free. It's just music reviews, and interviews with obscure recording artists. It's a super niche zine but it's right-sized for my attention span. I don't write for them but I wish I did.  For more info email

Top 10 Records of 2013    

1. Listener - Time is a Machine
2. JARS - A Moveable Feast
3. Octaves  -Which Way The Wind Blows
4. USSSY - Afghan Music House Party
5. Throat - Manhole
6. Zozobra - Savage Masters
7. Zigzags - 10-12
8. Phillip H. Anselmo and the Illegals - Walk Through Exits Only
9. Discourse - Curse of Consciousness
10. Tape Deck Mountain - Sway

Honorable Mentions go out this year to killer bands like: Cellos - Standard and Poors 7-Inch, Dope Body Saturday 7-Inch, Skylark Split 7-Inch with Wedding, Blackbird Raum - False Weavers, Spray Paint -Yawn Factory, Balaklava - Spiral Cramp, Gazer - Phone Commercial, Metabolismus - Brimborium ,Nerves - Nerves, The Greys - Drift 7-Inch, and the Child Bite/We Are Hex - Split LP.