Monday, December 31, 2018

Otoboke Beaver

I started looking into some of the confirmed acts for 2019's upcoming SXSW, to see if anything really piqued my interest, and man, i cannot wait to see Japan's Otoboke Beaver.  Hyper, frenetic female punk rock that just slaps you right in the face.  It sounds like everything i'm going to need from 2019.  The band released "Okoshiyasu!!" earlier this year, a collection of recordings from 2010-2015, and it's a loud and bouncy mission statement.  Listen to album opener "Akimahenka" below, get the record here from Damnably, and if you're Austin in March, seek these girls out.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Mythic Sunship

It's always a treat when you find a new band, only to discover that the label they're on is a veritable giving tree of amazing artists you've never heard of.  El Paraiso Records is such a label.  After digging on the kosmische pastiche of Futuropaco earlier this year, i explored the rest of the roster the far out label had to offer, and it's a bounty of riches.  Take for instance "Another Shape of Psychedelic Music," the latest album from mind melters Mythic Sunship.  An absolutely consciousness pummeling disc of sounds, the record combs the more cosmic and brain fried elements of free jazz, psych rock, prog, and Krautrock to blast your senses into the infinite expanse.  Listen to "Elevation" below and get the record here.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Street Sects

Not quite through with us for 2018, Austin industrial duo Street Sects dropped one more song to end the year with, a stripped down, acoustic track called "Here Come the Years."  It's nice.  Listen below and get it here.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Favorite Movies of 2018

There's no use delaying it any further.  The odds of me being able to cram in a whole slew of 2018 films before the year concludes are not great, nonexistent even.  So, take this list with a grain of salt, as movies i'm sure i would adore ("Won't You Be My Neighbor," "The Blakkklansman," "Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse," "Anna and The Apocalypse," and more) are just going to have to sit on the sidelines for the moment.

All that being said, i did manage to catch a lot of great movies this year, many of which explored similar themes on post traumatic stress.  Hmm.  Anyway, here are my top ten...

10. "The Other Side of the Wind"
Holy shit, a "new" film from Orson Welles!  Originally shot over several years in the 1970s before being lost for a bevy of different reasons, this oddity of free flowing cinema was finally assembled and completed by Welles's friend and fellow filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich and is up on Netflix for us all to watch right now.  And it's a fascinating watch, that at times can come across as pretentious (teenage film student me would have been gaga for it), but also gives us a glimpse into Welles's psyche and his contempt of the Hollywood system he felt betrayed him.

9. "Game Night"
I did not expect to like this movie nearly as much as i did, but John Francis Daley's and Jonathan Goldstein's "Game Night" works so well, an action-comedy hybrid that actually has jokes and suspense.  Also, Jesse Plemons totally steals this movie from everyone else, which is no small feat as it has a great cast.

8. "Halloween"
It was a pretty awesome year for horror in general, but we also got not one, but two remakes that somehow managed to be great, despite the odds leveled against them.  One of those was David Gordon Green's "Halloween," a sequel that retcons the last 40 years of other sequels to tell a straight-to-the-point scary story that also works in themes on PTSD and living with that trauma.  It gets kind of brutal too, which honestly is what we all deserve from a slasher flick.  And it was Carpenter approved, the artist even supplying the score.  I'm now patiently awaiting a boom of '80s horror icon retcons.  It should be fun.

7. "You Were Never Really Here"
Despite the glowing reviews and recommendations for Lynne Ramsay's "You Were Never Really Here," the story of a contract killer with PTSD who rescues girls from sex trade, i didn't really get into it upon my first viewing.  But then a month or so later, i re-watched it and was aghast at how much i missed the first time around.  I didn't remember anything.  Then it occurred to me that i fell asleep watching it my first go, along with a snoozing 2-year old laying across me.  These kinds of things happen when you have kids.  You pass out when you sit for a minute.  I sure am glad i watched the film the second time, because it is excellent from top to bottom.

6. "Hereditary"
Wow.  What a creepy, dread-inducing, slowburn of a horror movie, that meditates on grief and familial trauma (there it is again), with an ending that's sure to be an all-timer for genre fans for years to come.  Horror buffs and old stalwarts alike were shook by Ari Aster's debut film, really a true marvel of filmmaking.  I can't wait to see what he does next.  And Toni Collette deserves every award for her performance.

5. "Annihilation"
Alex Garland's track record on literally everything he does is phenomenal.  Whether it be as a novelist, a screenwriter, a video game developer, or a director, he hits it out of the park every single time.  This year's "Annihilation" was no different, a beautiful, alluring, and terrifying sci-fi movie that didn't get near the love it deserved.  Let this guy make anything he wants.

4. "Avengers: Infinity War"
I just had to include this one.  In all likelihood, i can see myself revisiting it more than any other film on this list, because i have kids...and they love it.  Much better than its predecessor, it's kind of a weird movie, a stuffed to the gills epic that's a culmination of everything that came before it, the groundwork being laid the last 10 years by another 20 films.  There's no 3-act structure, as one usually gets in a tent pole summer blockbuster, the villain is the protagonist, and the ending hits on an emotional level it has no business achieving.  As a comic book fan, i knew exactly what was going to happen, as did many of the folks watching in the theater with me, but we were all dead silent at the Russo Brothers' film's end, Thanos's snap maybe being the collective cultural moment of the year.  And next April, we get to see how it all wraps up.

3. "The Night Comes for Us"
The best action film i've seen all year, maybe ever.  Timo Tjahjanto's ode to blood, guts, and fisticuffs left me speechless, high on adrenaline, and pumping my fist in the air.  Stop everything you're doing, and watch it right now.

2. "Suspiria"
The other horror remake this year that defied all expectations, Luca Guadagnino's version of the Argento classic, completely mesmerized me.  It's one of those films that i can't help but think about and think about days after viewing.  Tilda Swinton is amazing.  Thom Yorke's score is amazing.  The cinematography is amazing.  The whole damn thing is amazing.  And really, what's probably most amazing is how it's got me wondering which film a like better now, the original or the remake.  I never thought that could happen in a million years.

1. "Mandy"
No debate, Panos Cosmatos's "Mandy" is my favorite movie of the year.  And why shouldn't it be?  An unhinged Nic Cage performance, hypnotic visuals, some heavy metal animated sequences, Linus Roache as a cult leader, an evil, demonic biker gang who look like cenobites, a chainsaw fight, and the forging of a battle axe, along with Johann Johannson's final film score make for pure cinematic bliss.  Teenage me would have gone apeshit for this, as would 20-year old me and 30-year old me.  Hell, 40-year old me went apeshit, and i'm only 39.  If you've neglected to see it yet, every single one of you needs to get this movie in front of your eyeballs now.  Oh my god, i love this movie.

I know this year was trying for all of us, but when you need that break from reality for a couple of hours, these films have got you covered.

Friday Horror Trailer - Frozen

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Cocky Bitches

Here's a little piece of scuzzy Austin punk i missed from November by Butthole Surfers guitarist Paul Leary's project The Cocky Bitches.  Crunchy goodness.  Listen to the more subdued "Produce" below and download the "Mercy" album here from Slope Records (vinyl is sold out).

Wednesday, December 26, 2018


Back at work today and really not feeling it.  So, here's some appropriate mood music from Nashville ambient post-rock duo Hammock.  Check out the video for the band's "Cliffside" below and get their "Universalis" LP here.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Cookin Soul - DOOM XMAS

Spanish producer and DJ Cookin Soul took it upon himself to take a bunch of MF Doom acappella verses and lay them on top of some absolutely stoned samples of Christmas songs on his new release "DOOM XMAS."  It works like gangbusters, and i know what i'm listening to tonight.  Check out "MF Grinch" below and download it all here.

Sonic Advent Calendar: Day 24 - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Originally penned for the musical "Meet Me in St. Louis" with Judy Garland, the kind of bleak "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" has long been one of my favorite holiday tunes, the cold melancholy of it all hitting me in just the right way.  Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs released a version about a week ago, and it is appropriately moody.  I've heard better versions (John Denver and Rowlf from The Muppets comes to mind), but this one will do just fine.  Watch the video below...and try to get some sleep tonight.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Sonic Advent Calendar: Day 23 - Peace on Earth / Little Drummer Boy

David Bowie's and Bing Crosby's "Peace on Earth / Little Drummer Boy" from "Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas" television special, a song and a pairing that still feels otherworldly to me.  Check out the bit from the show below.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Friday Horror Trailer (A Day Late) - Silent Night Deadly Night 2

Forgot to post this yesterday.  Merry Christmas!

Technicolor Paradise - Rhum Rhapsodies & Other Exotic Delights

Holy shit, where have you been all my life?  Numero Group is known for their amazing compilations of long lost obscure music, be it soul, power pop, or more, and earlier this year, the label released a big ol' collection of exotica, the much maligned genre from a half century or more ago that probably soundtracked the imbibing of many a backyard pina colada party.  Moving and grooving through strands of surf rock, lounge, jazz, psychedelia, and easy listening, "Technicolor Paradise - Rhum Rhapsodies & Other Exotic Delights," is instantly hooky, a wonderful collection of unknowns that's only a little cheesy.  I love it.  And it's sure to be a wonderful companion to the "Unusual Sounds" library music compilation from Anthology a couple months ago.  Dig all over these old tunes.  Stream the whole thing (54 songs!) below and order it here or here.

Sonic Advent Calendar: Day 22 - Merry Xmas Everybody

It's not quite on the same level as Wizzard's "I Wish it could Be Christmas Everyday" or T. Rex's "Christmas Bop," but i'll take my glam rock holiday songs were i can.  And so today, we've got Slade's "Merry Xmas Everybody."  Check it out below.

Richard Swift

I saw "The Hex," the swan song of singer/songwriter/producer Richard Swift popping up on a lot of year end lists over the last couple weeks and decided to check it out.  Wow.  Oh how did i miss this last September?  The record is phenomenal, a mix of doo-wop, classic pop, folk, honky tonk piano, synths, croon, and wall-of-sound aesthetic that is simultaneously funny, woozy, uplifting, melancholy, and devastating, a showcase of the human spirit.  Swift made a name for himself collaborating and producing records for folks like Kevin Morby, The Shins, and more, but "The Hex" feels like it's on a whole other level.  Somewhat inspired by the deaths of his mother and sister, the record finds an artist trying to find ground, something Swift was ultimately unable to do as he passed away earlier this year as a result of his alcoholism.  And while death may hang over the proceedings, there's so much more to hear in this final work.  Listen to album closer "Sept20" below and get the record here from Secretly Canadian.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Favorite Reissues of 2018

Okay, so here's my last list of the week.  I'll have one more for you sometime after Christmas of my favorite movies of the year (gotta give myself as much time to see as many things as possible).  Anyway, aside from a bevy of new music to sort through and enjoy every year, there are also a fine number of reissues that deserve just as much of your attention: out of print oddities, long lost classics, compilations of old treasures, and so on.  Here are my five favorites, and while i usually don't like to rank things, i'm going for it here.

Check em out.

5. Julee Cruise - "The Voice of Love"
Aside from unearthing some early demos from the artist, the good folks at Sacred Bones also reissued Julee Cruise's sophomore effort this year, 1993's "The Voice of Love."  And for the first time on vinyl too.  Any music we get from Cruise is always a treat, and it's nice that this oft neglected record is getting its due.  It's just as wonderful as its predecessor, 1989's "Floating into the Night," and deserves your attention.

4. "Night of the Living Dead" Original Soundtrack
Every single year, Waxwork seems to outdo itself, issuing soundtrack after soundtrack that totally one-ups whatever came before.  2018 was no different with "Dawn of the Dead," and "It," and "Manhunter," and "Profondo Rosso," and more.  But i think my favorite has to be this 50th anniversary release of the soundtrack to George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead."  The whole thing is beautiful, from packaging to art to vinyl color (Ghoul Green!) to the sound of it all.  Highly recommended.

3. Cherubs - "Short of Popular"
Austin noise rock legends Cherubs' 1996 compilation "Short of Popular" got a much deserved reissue this year from Sonic Surgery Records.  A collection of outtakes and singles, originally issued by the beloved but now defunct Trance Syndicate Records, these little nuggets of chaos demand to blast your eardrums and rattle your bones.  Now, let's get that first album reissued too.

2. Popera Cosmic - "Les Esclaves"
One of those Holy Grails of record collectors, the wild, frenetic, and hypnotic "Les Esclaves" LP from French jazzy psych pop band Popera Cosmic, which has been out of print for nearly half a century, made its triumphant return this year, remastered for the masses. The record, made with the help of members of Space Art, Guy Skornik (who would later make all kinds of wonderful sounds for Alejandro Jodorowsky), a teen-aged Jean Michel-Jarre, and Jean Rollin orchestrator Paul Piot, is a sonic freakout that influenced folks like Serge Gainsbourg and Magma.  And thanks to Finders Keepers, we get to listen to it too.  Love, love, love this album.

1. "Unusual Sounds" Compilation
Mexican Summer's Anthology Recordings has a damn near flawless record when it comes to reissues and compilations, and this year's "Unusual Sounds," a collection of library music that ranges from funk to new age to jazzy psychedelia is no different.  I've had it on repeat since it came out, and you should to.  It's one of the best albums to come out this year.  Listen to the whole thing below starting with Keith Mansfield's "Funky Fanfare," and then just let it ride.

And that wraps up my music lists for the week.  You've got a lot of stuff to listen to.  Get moving.

Sonic Advent Calendar: Day 21 - My Favorite Things

I'm not really sure why "My Favorite Things" is considered a Christmas time song.  But it is, so we're going to listen to it.  Here's John Coltrane's version of the song from 1961.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Favorite Cover Art of 2018

Another year end list coming straight at your face.  Here are my 10 favorite pieces of cover art that came out this year, in alphabetical order because how could i pick a favorite?  Take your "Sophie's Choice" bullshit elsewhere.

1. Author & Punisher - "Beastland" LP

 2. Body/Head - "The Switch" LP

3. JEFF The Brotherhood - "Magick Songs" LP

4. Mint Field - "Pasar de las Luces" LP

5. Moon Duo - "Jukebox Babe / No Fun" 12" single

6. "Night of the Living Dead" Original Soundtrack LP from Waxwork Records

7. Oneohtrix Point Never - "Age Of" LP

8. Street Sects - "The Kicking Mule" LP (Dig on that Francesco Francavilla artwork.)

9. Sudan Archives - "Nont for Sale" digital single

10. Ben Vince - "Assimilation" LP

And there you go.  Each one of these would look great on a wall somewhere (that Sudan Archives one in particular).  I'll be back again tomorrow with a handful of 2018 reissues that ruled.

Sonic Advent Calendar: Day 20 - Merry Christmas Baby

"Merry Christmas Baby" from Booker T. and The MG's, coming at you for day 20 of this ridiculous thing i do (that admittedly is getting more and more difficult to find new songs for).  Check it out below.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Favorite Songs of 2018 that Did Not Come Out in 2018

Just because it's 2018 doesn't mean i just listen to stuff from 2018.  Every year, i come across new discoveries from years or decades past that get into my earholes with as much zest as anything current.  I hear them via friends or radio stations or blogs or YouTube deep dives, and on and on.  Here are ten songs that made it into heavy rotation this year presented in the order they would be if i were to make a mixtape for you...

The Roger Webb Sound - "Moon Bird" (1971)
A little jazzy psychedelia to kick things off.

Mandy More - "If Not By Fire" (1972)
Recommendations from the late, great Trish Keenan of Broadcast.  The gift that keeps on giving.

The Lollipops - "Naked When You Come" (1966)
1960's Danish pop group with a provocative single?  Sign me up.

Popera Cosmic - "Philadelphie Story" (1969)
I knew this song because The Brian Jonestown Massacre has a version of it with French artist Soko on vocals.  I had no idea it was a cover.  Thanks Finders Keepers!

Pierre Cavalli - "Un Soir Chez Norris" (1971)
This song kicks so much ass i can hardly stand it.

Neil Merryweather - "Sunshine Superman" (1974)
A crazy awesome version of the Donovan classic.  This song is a banger.

Elias Rahbani - "Dance of Maria" (1974)
Came across this little gem while hunting around on YouTube.  I recognized it because it was sampled in a song by Geoff Barrow's Quakers project back in 2012.  My 2-year old loves it.

Nino Ferrer - "Looking for You" (1974)
I heard this record for the first time this year and have been on a thus far fruitless search to obtain it.  This song is my favorite.

Armando Trovajoli - "Surrender" (1972)
For fans of Ennio Morricone for sure.

The Damned - "Alone Again Or" (1986)
I had no idea that the legendary punk rock band had covered this classic jam by Love until hearing it on the radio one morning while driving to work.  It continues to make my day, reverent of the original but still completely of itself.  It might be better than the original.

Listen to all of these.  They're great.  I'll be back again tomorrow with my favorite album art.