It was spring 2023 on Planet Earth at the ancient Red Lion Tavern in Silver Lake, California, when Top Five’s founder and publisher, Kyle Pivarnik, asked me to take the reins as head honcho. My last interview subject was Anderson .Paak during the height of the pandemic, but that was the last time I had covered music. In recent years, I’ve shifted toward writing fiction and making ends meets as a copy editor (I’m finally becoming a citizen). In fact, it was just before I spoke to Kyle that I was knocking on Creem Magazine‘s door. Not as a writer, as a copy editor. They didn’t have the budget, so here I am, stoked to serve you, the fans and haters and vinyl fetishists alike.

Taste Is Everything

I’ve been avoiding music writing ever since I left my post as editor for Janky Smooth, mainly because I find music one of the hardest subjects to write about. But who am I kidding, I’ve always loved music and it’s part of my everyday life. What you throw on the speakers while pouring your morning coffee is about as vital as what you pull out of the closet to wear, or take out of the fridge to eat. Music is ubiquitous whether we’re paying attention or not, and it’s up to you whether your life’s soundtrack sucks.

But the point is to have fun. That’s what I want for both readers and writers here at Top Five. We’re not above writing low-hanging fruit. Who doesn’t love a classic listicle? But in all things we do, we’ll always strive to exercise discernment. While we don’t believe in guilty pleasures, we do subscribe to the adage that we are all victims of our own taste.

What I Want

What I want for this site is timeless coverage. Evergreen listening. There are plenty of sites out there vying for cutting edge relevance and fellating themselves over their own taste-making. All the power to them. But it sounds exhausting. Let’s kick back and drop the needle. Let’s let the music come to us. Throw anything on the old Crosby and let loose. I’m under the impression that Everything is NOW. Damn music historicity. It’s for nerds, and purists, and I think both have had their time in the sun.

We’re in Year Zero. Sgt. Pepper just dropped the same week as Boygenius. Act accordingly. As far as I’m concerned, 2012 was indeed the end of the world, the event horizon of the great attractor at the End of History, and we’ve all been sucked into a single point of spacetime. We’re on the other side of the looking glass. Everything’s uncanny and nothing makes sense. Our world is too strange to satirize. I hark back to Philip K. Dick‘s notion that maybe we’re all living in the year 50 AD: Christ has been resurrected, we’ve been granted eternal life, but Satan has pulled the wool over our eyes, casting the illusion of Time over us, and we just think it’s 2023 AD, perpetually blinding us from the eternal truth that all we have to do is say YES to NOW, and we’re free.

It’s all wild stuff to contemplate, but whether this is all a simulation or not, if we can hang our hat on anything, it’s music. In the beginning was the Word, after all, and the Good Lord felt it best to sing us all into existence. And since humans uttered their first words all those hundreds of thousands of years ago (my apologies to the creationists), they’ve taken on the musical aspect of their creator. Music is the Word. You can hear the archaic and orgiastic wail of humanity’s origins in the likes of jazz and rock ‘n‘ roll and the driving sounds of electronica like the shamanic drumming of old. It’s simply what we’re here to do.

Okay, enough of the grandiose. Simply put, we celebrate music here. We believe that if you can articulate your obsession well enough, anything is Mozart. And we love to a make a case. (And you’re really going to have to make a great case if you want me to listen to The 1975). That’s what we’re here to do, for you, the reader. We’re here to write about the bands and artists you love, and hopefully turn you on to others you should love. Share, lurk, engage, request, tell us we’re off our rockers. We’re not here as a mouthpiece for the PR machine, which is sadly what music journalism has turned into. If there’s anything we love as much as music here at Top Five Records, it’s writing. Essay, in French, roughly translates as “attempt.” Even if we never get to pure and genius articulation of the indescribable, the attempt is what matters.

EIC w/ Thurston Moore. Boulder, Colo., 2015.

In Sound & Time,

Brent L. Smith
Editor in Chief
Los Angeles, Calif., 2023

P.S. Since I believe in walking the walk and talking the talk. Here are my Top 5 Albums:

5. Mystery White Boy – Jeff Buckley

4. Mothership Connection – Parliament

3. Eat To The Beat – Blondie

2. A Date With Elvis – The Cramps

1. Bo Diddley – Bo Diddley

Previous articleAlbum Review | Alex Cameron’s Oxy Music
Next article5 Albums That Will Turn You On to Jazz
Brent L. Smith is the author of Edendale Society, Nation of Dirty Assholes, Pipe Dreams on Pico, and his latest Gambling Hell in No Time (Far West Press, TBA). For nearly a decade, Brent was senior contributing writer for Flaunt Magazine & music editor for Janky Smooth, covering the 2010s garage rock wave & traversing the occult dimensions of Hollywood. As copy editor, his recent projects include Ritual by Damien Echols & The Tibetan Book of the Dead for Beginners. He’s been commissioned to write the authorized biography of Cory Wells, singer of the 70s rock band Three Dog Night. Brent’s mother is hypnotherapist & UFO researcher Yvonne Smith. His upbringing informed his explorations into esoterica, psychonautics & American mythos. His work has appeared in L.A. Weekly, Hobart Pulp, MUFON Journal & Reality Sandwich. He received his MFA from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics under the tutelage of Penny Arcade, DJ Spooky, Lydia Lunch, Thurston Moore, Daniel Pinchbeck & Anne Waldman. He resides in his native Los Angeles.