So Xmas is done but the year’s still running and I am freshly fattened by acres of meat and whiskeys and argyle from an all too brief sojourn in DC which means I am in just the right headspace to ruminate fondly on some of the last slabs of wax to make an impact on me this year. I’m sorry we didn’t get to talk them over longer or sooner but eff it, we’re here now babeez. Rockit.
The Life and Times – Lost Bees – Kwame’s spent years trying to get me to jump into the deep end of this space blast post punk whirlpool and I’m glad I finally did. Sure, I liberally dipped my toes into the eddy of No One Loves You Like I Do and that was fine and all but it took a long day, underemployed and lost in Chinatown (Flushing) for me to fully succumb to the centripetal force and I’ve been swimming in the Quantum Foam ever since.
Young Fathers – Dead – Perhaps the finest band to rattle my SXSW cage this (or any) year, Young Fathers play a dead certain brand of hip hop whose proud maturity couldn’t be more unnerving if it was delivered by Idris Elba at a Faust gig with flames and chainsaws and harmonious intimacy among men, real men and the drums they beat in the face of insurmountable urbanity. Dead is the boldest, most assured and feverishly adventurous debut LP I’ve heard since Appetite. Seriously. This shit spins classic.
The Bad Plus – The Rite of Spring – I don’t know much about jazz and I know even less about composition (sorry, O…I’m still trying) but I have seen the Bad Plus a number of times on account of an ex and have always been impressed by their postmodern reinvention of pop culture through the obtuse tongue of the trio and, I mean, EVERYONE knows Stravinsky invented the 20th Century with the tonal experimentations and dalliances with dissonance that made this suite a riot, so it makes some solid sense that Le BP would tackle the hallmark in the 21st. What’s surprising is how approachable the damn thing is.
Locktender – Rodin – Rodin opens with a 20 minute post rock cum hardcore cum lonely Midwestern fireside scribe interpretation of The Burghers of Calais which is a bronze monument to an event in 1347 wherein six of Calais’ most prominent citizens presented themselves to Edward III with nooses around their necks so that their town might be spared his siege. So, yeah. It’s fucking with that kind of epic.
Bear Hands – Distraction – Man, I love this record. It’s big synth-throw Big Country FM radio yore daze is just so damn infectious and thumping and weird enough to rise above into a smiling wild and shameless jam that is PERFECT for percolating the day or strolling idly through the streets of Manhattan. Had I made it to the beach once this year, this would’ve been my hatchback jam.
Torn Hawk – Through Force of Will – My friend Beth told me once about something the kids are calling “Vaporwave” which I guess is what happens when Johnny Jewel huffs too much musk form Gosling’s cock (not a bad thing, mind you) and gets all hoofed synth neon Alcatraz on our collective asses. I can smell some of that glimmer in Torn Hawk but there’s a greater heft and glitchier tape smack in the referential panorama that makes this endeavor something beautiful, moving and unflinchingly addictive.
Ed. Note: Torn Hawk put out another record this year about doing pushups and crying which Charles thinks may be better than this jam but he’s already on the wrong side of the curve.
Acid Fast – Rabid Moon – I started listening to this record on a cold, bleak night after a long day in the coal mines of Bushwick and I told myself that, from this snarking basher onwards, I would dedicate my year to punk RAWK music. I did not. But I did keep returning to Acid Fast when I was just the particular kind of Tall Boy drunk that suggests throwing empties at the L train is not only justified but sensible.
Ghost to Falco – Soft Shield – I’d like to say that Ghost to Falco is a friend of the site but he’s just some dude who sent us some records once. I don’t mean to sound dismissive but facts are facts and maybe we CAN be friends some red Western day but, in the meantime, we’ll settle in for some serious appreciation for the man and his expanding palette of barely hinged highway anthems that play with a touch of Cave-ian baroque but remain rooted in the firm foolish freedom of the American sunset.
Mamaleek – He Never Spoke a Mumblin’ Word – I guess this is another metal record I fell in for this year but metal’s not the right word to describe the cryptic siblings of Mamaleek even though their sound hisses and howls through the glacial mire of crashing whispers of and blackened hellfire like the last rat on a doomed ship gnawing Enochian into the hull. So what then? Porcelain.
Liam Betson – The Cover of Hunter – Spook Houses cited this dude as one of their principle reasons for being and I love Spook Houses so it serves to reason that I’d fall in some sort of affection for the man who once slung an axe for Titus Andronicus when they were still Modern Lovers of the civil war. This, his most recent LP, is a basement echo sun jam that parties when pushed but mostly lives in the sweet lull of articulate sorrow that gives pop music its swollen teeth.
Purling Hiss – Weirdon – I spend a lot of time thinking about how I should be listening to Camper Van Beethoven even though the only record I have from them is the “Camper Van AWESOME!” CD Danny made me way back when he bought the box set and I’m actually pretty sure I lost that (dick, me) so nothing, I guess. Anyway, this band Purling Hiss fully fucking reminds me of that greatest hits collection with the lanky pop and Lowery twang only I’m pretty sure in this dude’s an epic, understated shredder and we need those way more than we need folk singers, right? Right?!?! I’m mixing metaphors again. Whatever. This record’s a killer.
Xiu Xiu – Angel Guts: Red Classroom – This is not the year that I love Xiu Xiu but it is the one I get over the rage spent on that one record with the half-naked Asian boy on the cover (thanks, Becky…thanks) because I finally realized just how much Jamie Stewart nods to Scott Walker both in tortured melodramatic baritone and wrought wily experimental textures but whereas Mr. Walker tends to upend the loony bin with pitch patience and duets with Sunn 0))) (no.), Mr. Stewart can barely escape his own melody for all the murky devastation. He also plays the vibrator on stage, so yeah…maybe this is love.