Sunday, December 31, 2017

Drab Majesty

I'm not sure how i missed out on "The Demonstration," LA synth pop band Drab Majesty's January release on Dais Records.  That should have been how i kicked off my 2017.  Alas, this icy, Cure and Depeche Mode inspired album will have to be my go-to for the start of 2018 instead.  Better late than never i guess.  Listen to "Too Soon to Tell" below.

American Pleasure Club

Here's a lovely new release to close out 2017 to from the artist formerly known as Teen Suicide.  Now under the moniker of American Pleasure Club, the band continues to put out stellar, lo-fi pop, this time around on the "I Blew on a Dandelion and the Whole World Disappeared" cassette, recording tunes on what sounds like a tape recorder.  The aesthetic feels very Daniel Johnston, and i love it.  Listen to "Soft Whispered Prayer (tape)" below and grab the download or cassette here...but hurry, the tape is only available until tomorrow.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard - Gumboot Soup

They did it!  Aussie psych rock crazy people King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard have succeeded in their plan to release 5 albums in 2017.  Following February's "Flying Microtonal Banana," June's "Murder of the Universe," August's "Sketches of Brunswick East," and November's "Polygondwanaland," the band has now officially put out album #5, "Gumboot Soup," which you can stream or pick up here via Flightless.  Listen to album opener "Beginner's Luck" below.  Here's to 6 more albums from the band in 2018.

T House

Here's some distorted and discordant experimental guitar rock to gradually close out this long and challenging year.  T House makes ugly and entrancing music to stare off into the closing abyss perfect for 2017!  Listen to "Secret Arrows for Harry McCarney" below and go get "The Secret Arrows" single here via Endless.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

And Now Our Favorite Movies of 2017!!!

Well, there's really no reason for me to delay this last year-end list any longer.  The odds of my being able to squeeze in any more films in the next three days are exceedingly low.  And that's okay.  I've made my peace with it, though i am quite sure that "The Shape of Water," or "Thor: Ragnarok," or "Bladerunner 2049, or "Brawl in Cell Block 99," or any other number of movies would make their way into my favorites of the year.  And in the event i catch any of them in the next couple of days, maybe i'll update this post, but until then, here are my 9...kind of 10...favorite movies of 2017.  Check 'em out.

10. Raw
Julia Ducournau's cannibal opus is about as wonderful and bloody as a coming of age story can be, a young vegetarian girl, away from home in her first year of veterinary school, her life and world growing and changing around her, all as she discovers a taste for...meat.  This is a wholly original and fascinating film that sticks with you long after the final frame.

9. Gerald's Game
The first of two Stephen King adaptations on the list, as well as the first of two Netflix movies on the list, this Mike Flanagan directed horror film contains easily the gnarliest gore scene i saw all year, along with legit scares, mounting dread, and an excellent performance from Carla Gugino.  The ending is a little fumbled, but the hour and a half that precedes it mostly makes up for it.

8. I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
Character actor Macon Blair's directorial debut is a force, a hilarious and often violent force.  I did not expect to like this movie as much as i did, but this quirky little "revenge" flick hit all the right notes, from the aforementioned comedy and violence to a knockout performance by Melanie Lynskey.  And Jesus Lizard front man David Yow is in it too!  That practically sells the film all by itself.

7. It
Certainly the film i was most excited for this year, Stephen King's 1986 novel being one of my all time favorite books, and Andres Muschietti's first adaptation gets it mostly right.  Bill Skarsgard's Pennywise is terrifying and visually fascinating, making the character his own with all due respect to Tim Curry's iconic performance from 1990.  Where the film really shines though is with just how likable the "Loser's Club" is, the child actors crafting characters you would have wanted to hang out with as a kid, the friendships feeling organic and palpable.  Here's to the upcoming Chapter 2.

6. The Blackcoat's Daughter
Haunting atmosphere and creeping dread so thick, you feel it in your bones, Oz Perkins' (son of Anthony) film is the perfect slow burning slice of terror, something to watch on a cold, dark, and quiet night at home, the wind blowing outside, your heart pounding in your ears.  Brother Elvis provides the equally amazing sound cues for one of the best horror movies of the year.

5. The Disaster Artist
I'm not a fan of liking things ironically, though i have loved "The Room" ever since my first bewildered viewing.  Every aspect of the movie is otherworldly terrible, but the whole almost alien nature of the thing makes it difficult to avert your eyes.  And it's hilarious.  Terrible, alien, and hilarious.  So naturally it became a cult, midnight movie thing.  And then there was a book.  And then James Franco of all people optioned the book and made it into a wonderful, funny, and heartfelt film.  Franco's portrayal of Tommy Wiseau along with brother Dave's onscreen take of Greg Sestero paints a picture of an often strained friendship forged and challenged by the duo's own aspirations.  It's funny and ridiculous and surprisingly moving too.  Franco's Wiseau is more than just caricature.  There's a real humanity coursing beneath the exterior of this strange, strange man, and now there's some added depth and nuance to "The Room."  Who would have ever thought?

4. mother!
Looking online, it appears that Darren Aronofsky's latest received a VERY divided response among viewers and critics.  People either loved it or hated it.  There was no middle ground.  Obviously i'm one of those who loved it, and it's been hard to get it out of my head ever since watching it.  Steeped in Biblical allegory, the film is like nothing else out there, dream logic and symbolism displacing any kind of solid or linear narrative for something far more subjective, and with top notch performances from every actor in the film.  This is one to be dissected for years to come.

3. Get Out
Maybe the most important movie of 2017, the debut feature length film from Jordan Peele is timely social commentary masquerading as a horror film, which has long been something many of the best horror films do.  A terrifying picture of what it means to be black in America and a skewering of the insidious racism lying within most, if not all, of our institutions, Peele's film moves with an assuredness not usually seen in a director's first stab at filmmaking.  It's real.  It's scary.  And it's also funny.  Fantastic things are in Jordan Peele's future, and we are all the better for it.

2. Baby Driver
Edgar Wright's latest wears its love of cinema and pop music on both of its sleeves to frenetic and delightful effect.  A highly stylized heist and chase film that also happens to be a love story, the film flashes and grooves along, its assortment of character actors appearing to be having the times of their lives, all set to a soundtrack for the ages.  This movie is fun, a blast from start to finish, and we all often need something like that in our lives.  It's also my favorite movie of the year...well...unless we're counting this other thing...

1. Twin Peaks: The Return
Personally, i consider the latest chapter in Mark Frost's and David Lynch's magnum opus to be television.  Amazingly great television.  But there are some folks out there, the show's creators included, who claim that "Twin Peaks" is just a really long, serialized, 18-part film.  And maybe that's the case, but regardless, TV or cinema, the show was my favorite thing from 2017.  It was my obsession, and it cloaked every other piece of pop culture ephemera this year, from the music i loved to the movies i watched, in its strange and dreamy glow.  It's made me want to go back and re-watch Lynch's entire back catalog.  And also, hopefully, it reminded everyone just how fucking cool Kyle MacLachlan is.  I feel like we'd forgotten that.

Anyway, those are my favorite movies (and show) of the year.  Stay tuned for any last second updates that could appear before Sunday night.  What were your favorites?

Windhand - Old Evil

February brings us new music from Virginia doom/stoner metal band Windhand, via a split 12" with Satan's Satyrs on Relapse.  Watch the video for the crunching, crushing "Old Evil" below, and pre-order here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Men I Trust

Here's a little melancholy pop from Canada's Men I Trust for us on this...Wednesday.  My days are all off this week.  Anyway, listen to "I hope to be around" below and download it here.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Snapped Ankles

Described by the band themselves as "AGRROcultural PUNKTRONICA From AnaLOGe Dendrophilia Mediators, UK post punk band Snapped Ankles combine punk rock, world grooves, analog synth noise, and frenetic new wave into something wholly original and infectious.  Listen to "Jonny Guitar Calling Gosta Berlin" below and get the "Come Play The Trees" LP from the band here.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everybody!  Since this is the last day of the year that it's really ok to still listen to Christmas music, here's Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" just one last time.

Sonic Advent Calendar: Day 25 - The Christmas Song

Here's John Zorn's fairly traditional take on "The Christmas Song" featuring Mike Patton on vocals.  Merry Christmas folks!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Sonic Advent Calendar: Day 24 - Silent Night

We are just hours away from Christmas morning and my wife and i still have SO MUCH to wrap.  The 4-year old is already bouncing off the walls with giddiness, and his younger brother is just following his lead.  Anyway, there's a lot going on here today, so let's calm it down a tad with Low's stripped down and beautiful rendition of "Silent Night."  Hang in there.  We're going to get through this.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Planning for Burial - Below the House (version)

So this is pretty damn cool.  Earlier this year, experimental/shoegaze/drone/doom/metal band Planning for Burial released their excellent "Below the House" LP.  Before the album was released, the artist dubbed the entire thing to a cassette and then degraded that heck out of it.  "Below the House (version)" is the result.  In the artist's own words:

This is not a simple cassette version of the album "Below The House" which was released by The Flenser on LP/CD/Digital in March 2017. This is an experiment in sound/tape degradation using that album as well as other elements as the source material.

Audio taken from a cassette dub that was buried for 2 months in my garden during early winter 2017, then it sat baking in the sun on the dashboard of my car for an additional 5 months before being ripped for production.

Stream the whole thing below and download it from the artist here.

Sonic Advent Calendar: Day 23 - Winter Wonderland

It might just be the NOLA blood running through my veins, but i will always carry the softest of soft spots for Louis Armstrong.  I remember hearing his music as far back as i can even remember, Satchmo tunes ringing in my ears forever more.  That voice.  That trumpet.  That presence.  Listen to his version of "Winter Wonderland" below.

St. Vincent

Hey guys, how did you let me almost go through 2017 without mentioning St. Vincent's new album?  That was a close one.  Anyway, "Masseducation" is out now on Loma Vista.  Watch the video for "Los Ageless" below.  That song's a banger.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Sonic Advent Calendar: Day 22 - Nut Rocker

Maybe, sorta, kinda a Christmas song, but i can't help but include this piano driven, boogie laden take on "The Nutcracker," performed by B. Bumble and The Stingers.  Listen to "Nut Rocker" below and just try not to shake along.

Friday Horror Trailer - Christmas Evil

Look! It's Our Favorite Album Art of 2017!!!

At last we've made it to our second to last list of the year.  I'll post a movie one late next week (so as to cram more viewings in beforehand).  Anyway, lots and lots of amazing artwork this year, and after some consideration, i think these are my 10 favorites (in descending order this time to shake things up), presented without comment (for the most part) because my head hurts.  Good work graphic artists!

 10. Boris - "Dear" LP

9. Sheer Mag - "Need to Feel Your Love" LP

8. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - "The Kid" LP
She looks like some kind of celestial being.

 7. Ariel Pink - "Dedicated to Bobby Jameson" LP

 6. Kelly Lee Owens - s/t LP
There's almost like a Bowie "Heroes" thing going on with this cover, not so much like it's Erich Heckel inspired, but like candid B-roll stuff.  It's awesome.

 5. Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds - "Spider Baby" 7"

4. "Witches Halloween Brew" cassette

 3. "The Blackcoat's Daughter" OST LP

2. Feral Ohms - s/t LP

1. Bell Witch - "Mirror Reaper" LP
This piece of work is equal parts fascinating and terrifying, and i could probably stare at it for hours combing over every last detail and getting lost in the sheer immensity of it all.  Wow.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

And Now It's Our Favorite Songs of the Year that Did Not Come out in 2017!!!

Because i listen to more music than what just came out any given year, the last couple of years i've been listing my favorite songs that came out prior.  Sometimes i'm rediscovering something i loved years before, sometimes it's a song that i ignored the first time around but is now making me happy, and sometimes it's something i've never heard before.  With so much music out there to be found, both old and new, it's pretty impossible not to find amazing jams from days gone by.  Here are 10 songs from before 2017 that were either new to me or just made a larger impact on my than ever before...

1. Rebekah Del Rio - "No Stars"
"Twin Peaks" was pretty much my favorite thing this members aside and whatnot...and one of my favorite parts of the series was the almost weekly live performances from The Roadhouse.  One of the best came from Mexican American singer Rebekah Del Rio, whom i only previously knew from her devastating a capella, Spanish language version of Roy Orbison's "Crying" from Lynch's "Mulholland Drive."  I guess the director and the singer remained friends after the film, as he co-wrote "No Stars" for Del Rio for her 2011 album "Love Hurts Love Heals."  The song is a show-stopper.  Beautiful.  Painful.  Heart-aching.  And i can't stop listening to it.

2. The Paris Sisters - "I Love How You Love Me"
Did i mention i liked "Twin Peaks" this year?  Anyway, i had never heard The Paris Sisters' 1961 hit "I Love How You Love Me" until its inclusion in the series, during a particularly, wonderfully shot scene with Amanda Seyfried.  It has stayed with me since.

3. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick, & Tich - "Hold Tight"
Because of a chance re-viewing of Tarantino's "Death Proof" one night earlier this year on TV, i was reminded about how blisteringly awesome "Hold Tight" is.  It had probably been a decade or so since i had last listened to it, but became an almost daily thing after watching the movie.  Add to the fact that my 4-year old absolutely loves it, and it ended up on repeat for most of the year.

4. Fran├žoise Hardy - "Il Est Trop Loin"
I have long been a fan of French chanteuse Fran├žoise Hardy, and since she has decades of material to sift through, i often come across excellent music from her catalog that i never caught before.  And so we have "Il Est Trop Loin," a stripped down, psych-tinged, and melancholy French language take on the Peter, Paul, and Mary arrangement of the old folk song, "Sorrow."  It's wonderful, and now ranks right up there with my very favorite output from the artist.

5. The Eptones - "No One Else But You"
Thanks to always dependable Numero Group, i was able to hear this awesome, forgotten 60's rhythm and blues tune from San Antonio band The Eptones.  There was a whole scene in the city at the time with a number of amazing Mexican American bands.  All of it is worth checking out, but this song stuck the fastest.

6. Lynsey de Paul - "Won't Somebody Dance with Me"
I have Nicolas Winding Refn to thank for getting me hooked on this hokey, gooey, lovelorn track from from the early 70's performed by Lynsey de Paul.  It's weird because it hits me in on all of the nostalgia buttons though i had never heard it before this year.

7. Bohren & Der Club of Gore - "Ganz leise kommt die Nacht"
I had only a passing familiarity with German, jazz-indebted band Bohren & Der Club of Gore, but being the year of "Twin Peaks," and the band's penchant for finding just the right kind of Badalamenti groove, particularly on 2014's "Piano Nights," i fell hard for "Ganz leise kommt die Nacht."  It's gloomy, and oozing, and slightly menacing...just like 2017!

8. John Scoggins - "Treat Me Right"
John Scoggins' long lost album "Pressed for Time" got a lovely reissue earlier this year for Record Store Day.  I had never heard of the man before then, but that album's "Treat Me Right" is a power pop nugget to lord over all other power pop nuggets.

9. Barry White - "Never, Never Gonna Give You Up"
So much thanks to Edgar Wright for reminding me just how awesome and amazing Barry White's "Never, Never Gonna Give You Up" is.  The "Baby Driver" soundtrack is a blast from start to finish, as is the film, and rediscovering this jam was just icing on the cake.

10. Alton Ellis - "Whiter Shade of Pale"
I love Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale."  Always have.  And while i've never been the biggest reggae fan in the world, there is just something about Jamaican crooner Alton Ellis' dubby take on the rock classic.  It's damn near enough for me to reevaluate the entire genre, and it's one of my favorite songs of the year even though it came out half a century ago.

Be back tomorrow for our favorite album art of the year!

MGMT - Little Dark Age

While i thoroughly enjoyed MGMT's debut album 10(!!!) years ago, i've never really kept up with them since, with the band only occasionally popping up on my radar when a new single emerges from the ether.  And so we have "Little Dark Age," the title track from the band's upcoming new album out sometime early next year.  I dig it.  It's a smooth and synthy, goth-tinged pop nugget that just embeds itself in your earspace.  Watch the video below.