Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Tops List of 2014

Better late than never... I guess. Not a very adventurous year for me at all - so we have a lot of returning favorites, local folks, and so on. Wouldn't call it a bad list by any means, but plenty of stuff I just never scooped up last year.

Let's get on with it!

#1 This World - Watter

"Rustic Fog" from This World (2014)
"Small Business" from This World (2014)

Full-Album Stream - Spotify
Genre - Post-Rock
Facebook -
Location - Louisville, KY

Review - Treble Zine
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Temporary Residence Ltd., Amazon

This one just kind of lands in my wheelhouse (obviously). A few people from some stuff I like - Britt Walford, drummer of The Breeders (#6, 1990) and Slint (#???, 1991), and Zak Riles, guitarist from Grails (#1, 2011). And unsurprisingly, it sounds like post-rock instrumental jams with aspects of each. Sometimes lambent and mellow, sometimes arched up more. Nice diversity, some special guest stars... Hopefully, I'll write a full post about it - but for now, here's another good tune: "Seawater."

#2 Commune - Goat

"Hide from the Sun" from Commune (2014)
"Words" from Commune (2014)

Genre - Psych-Rock
Facebook -
Location - Korpilombolo, Sweden

Full-Album Stream - Rocket Recordings Bandcamp, Spotify
Review - Paste Magazine
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Sub Pop, Amazon

Goat's debut was my #1 of 2012, but I didn't cotton to this one immediately. Although not completely gone, there's a bit less of the Afro-funk here. More regular psych, which is great too! Still very rhythmic & rockin', and once I'd adjusted my expectations, a really solid album. Hopefully they'll make it back to the states to play live. They were awesome at the 2013 Austin Psych Fest (I still need to make my live list for then).

#3 Gone - Pong

"Livin in the Future" from Gone (2014)
"Fish Sauce" from Gone (2014)

Genre - Electro-Rock
Facebook -
Location - Austin, TX

Full-Album Stream - Pong SoundCloud, Spotify
Review - Austin Chronicle
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Saustex Records, Amazon

One of my known fav-o-rites (#3, 2010), I am a partisan for Pong. It's a testament to how much I dig most of this one, because I'm not really down with the one single (??) they made an official video for. O well...

Read my actual review (literally the previous post).

#4 Woodsman - Woodsman
Teleseparation EP - Woodsman

"Teleseparation" from Woodsman (2014)
"Healthy Life" from Woodsman (2014)

Genre - Psych-Jam
Official -
Location - Brooklyn, NYC

Stream/Download/Purchase - Woodsman, Teleseparation
Review - TinyMixTapes
Full Album Stream - Spotify
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Fire Talk Records

Jammy jams, but with one less drummer than before (#2, 2011). Formerly from Denver, but now sharing Brooklyn with almost half of America's bands. Psychedelic, instrumental, tribal, jamming?

I mean, the companion EP is described as "A long form stream of consciousness broken into 4 parts which the last track on that album was excerpted from. A glimpse into the recording process for the true zoners out there in this big world." True zoners.

#5 The Hum - Hookworms

"On Leaving" from The Hum (2014)
"Beginners" from The Hum (2014)

Genre - Post-Punk
Facebook -
Location - Leeds, England

Full-Album Stream - Spotify
Review - The Line of Best Fit
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Domino Records, Amazon

Quite a bit of growth since last year (#4, 2013) - although still keeping it real, although there might be a ballad somewhere in there. Last year, I used the term "spikey" - still spikey!

#6 "C is for Cthulhu" single - Linus Pauling Quartet
The Rendered Life - Charlie Naked
Running Up That Hill: Kate Bush Covers for Reproductive Rights benefit compilation
Knights In Satan's Service compilation

"C is for Cthulhu" from the single (2014)
Knights In Satan's Service commercial (2014)

Genre - Heavy-Rock
WordPress -
Location - Houston, TX

Stream/Download/Purchase - "C is for Cthulhu," The Rendered Life, R.U.T.H. comp, K.I.S.S. comp
Full 7" Stream - Spotify
Review - The Obelisk

All related to local heroes, The Linus Pauling Quartet(#2, 2012). And hey, yeah, I dig the "Cthulhu" single (with Pain Teens cover b-side), and video - it's all great! But for whatever reason, I really listened to the ambient Charlie Naked album a bunch more. Check it out.

Then there were the cover compilation covers. First Linus played "Watching You Without Me" by Kate Bush. Then later, LP4 covered "She" from KISS. Check both of those out - pretty nice...

#7 Dude Incredible - Shellac

"The People's Microphone" from Dude Incredible (2014)
"Surveyor" from Dude Incredible (2014)

Genre - Noise-Rock
Related - Electrical Audio
Location - Chicago, IL

Full-Album Stream - YouTube, Spotify
Review - The Quietus
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Tough & Go Records, Amazon

Shellac (#3, 1993) is made up of Todd Trainer, Bob Weston, and Steve Albini (#4, 1987 and #6, 1988). I actually forgot that this was released for most of the year, then finally got it down the stretch. Not sure what I was expecting, but yep! That's a Shellac record. Unsure what trajectory this ranking will take with more exposure, but it's old-school like from my youth.

#8 Ganymede - Jonas Reinhardt

"Skeptical Seventh Sun" from Ganymede (2014)
"Lox Moon" from Ganymede (2014)

Genre - Space-Synth
Official -
Location - San Francisco, CA

Full-Album/Video Stream - Vimeo, Spotify
Review - Was Ist Das?
Download/Purchase - Constellation Tatsu, Amazon

Whew... I was actually getting kind of concerned that Jonas Reinhardt (#9, 2011) was heading irretrievably into rhythm music. But this is comfortably back into space, and it came with a bonus DVD of experimental films set to the music. Or maybe scored by Jonas? Looks like the ltd. ed. (300) LP with download + DVD is still available. But after this Top 10 post, not for long!!

#9 Lost in the Dream - The War On Drugs

"Red Eyes" from Lost in the Dream (2014)
"Under the Pressure" from Lost in the Dream (2014)

Genre - Alt-Rock
Official -
Location - Philadelphia, PA

Full-Album Stream - YouTube, Spotify
Review - Consequence of Sound
Download/Purchase - Secretly Canadian, Amazon, iTunes

Finally a new album from the Traveling Wilburys (#9, 1988)!! What, Dire Straits?

Ahhh, this is The War on Drugs. I'm not trying to be insulting - this is a good album. But it's as retro as any '80s club night synth-pop, or whatever Kraut-flogging hippies you care to name. And kinda with a little bit of both, but mostly quality MOR from the late-'70s through mid-'80s. The "Post-Eagles" for an Alternative nation?


"Covert Discretion" from FREEMAN (2014)
"I Couldn't Play My Guitar Like A Man" from FREEMAN (2014)

Genre - Post-Boognish
Official -
Location - Brooklyn, NYC

Full-Album Stream - YouTube, Spotify
Review - The New Yorker
Download / Purchase - Partisan Records, Amazon, iTunes

It's a new band from Gener of Ween (#3, 2003, etc.). I'd regularly forget this one, then regularly be surprised how much I liked it whenever I listened, then I'd forget it again for awhile. If that continues for another 5-10 years, that would be pretty amazing.

I have no idea what's next. Maybe some more record mini-lists? Top 10 Live Shows of 2013 and 2014? Probably something along those line. YEAH!!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Review: Gone - Pong (2014)

Wow. First post of the new year, and I believe my first review ever! I thought I'd have to really dig down & describe a bunch of tunes, but looks like SoundCloud's gonna bail me out.

Just recently got to catch one of my main favorites, Pong (#3 of 2010, #1 of 2005) here in Houston again, for the first time since those #1 Live Shows of 2010. The occasion was releasing an all-new studio album, Gone, on Saustex Media. Buy the LP or CD from them here, get the CD or MP3 from Amazon, or AAC format on iTunes.

"Still Here" [live 2012], from Gone (2014)

That opening track started cropping up on live YouTubes awhile back, at least 2012 as shown there. "Still Here" kicks up a ruckus & kicks off some kind of general overall theme: being here or there, wanting to be elsewhere, going or being gone, a longing nostalgia / time travel... perhaps even survival. "They may be gone, but we are all still here." Experience the studio version via Pong SoundCloud.

My personal pick to click, "Livin in the Future" does best that relatively laid-back Pong mid-tempo stroke. Fits in a lot without goin' totally nuts (see next), catchy as hell from the beats on up. Various nice guitar parts that build to a funky blowout. That's a really well-constructed pop song there!

Uncork the nuttiness now. This one goes back at least to that 2010 Cactus in-store, when they were releasing the previous album. "Fish Sauce" is brewed from like The B-52's, Devo... I dunno, Mr. Bungle or maybe Fishbone (dat skankin' bass). Also, Gilligan's Island, Tootsie Pops, maybe Nilsson even? So much guitar texture: crinkly rippling, ersatz island slack-key, Morse Code. And the theme reappears.

"Electronic Friend" from Gone (2014)

I'm gonna back up a bit to the 2nd track. As explained over at Blurt Online, it's about a free iPad. And there's an official video.

Okay, cool.

I don't think Pong has ever done anything like "Sleepwalker" before - so normal-ish, like in a sincere Ween mode. A sleepy longing vibe, until... the wake-up? So Shane basically likes to get hit everywhere but the face? Ow! "Being dumb could be a virtue. OH NO!"

Whoa, new girl Kerri Atwood (only 5 years!) gets a full-fledged lead vocal - very nice. Like the song, like the driving momentum, love the breakdown. Frame it! Bury it! Walk twenty paces away!

"Lyman" is the drummer of Pong.

And "The Spot" finishes up the album. Kind of smoldering for awhile, it builds & builds, moving forward, but with lots of subtly ranging accompaniment (the music part). Solid wrap-up, good record!

Given that we're talking Pong, my range of reactions was limited and predictable. But I'm really happy with this one already.


Friday, December 27, 2013

A Tentative Top Twenty of 2013

Maybe I'm just getting bad at year-end lists, but one was quite difficult. First off, ordering the releases became a Sisyphean task - leading to an expanded list of twenty. (Yay??) I am confident that #1 is a better album than #20. But as you close in on the middle ground, my foundation turns to shifting sand. The official #7 could be tomorrow's #13, and today's #11 could be next month's #3... Plus there was so much this year that I just completely didn't hear.

I'm not even talking about crazy stuff like Kanye West or Daft Punk. I never got around to new albums by recurring favorites like Blut Aus Nord (What Once Was... Liber III), Barn Owl (V), or The Time & Space Machine (Magic Hour EP). Plus I could have maybe tried out new guys like Parquet Floors, Deafheaven... or even oldsters like Broadcast or Guapo. Who knows?

O well, here we go!

#1 The Next Day - David Bowie

"The Next Day" from The Next Day (2013)
"Where Are We Now?" from The Next Day (2013)

Genre - Return of the Ziggy Duke Oddity
Official -
Location - London, England

Full-Album Stream - YouTube
Review - The Quietus
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Bowie Shop, Amazon

Look, we all know what a mischievous elven trickster is David Bowie (#6, 1972 & #10, 1974). So I'm fully prepared to admit later to being duped. But for such a geezer, this seems a surprisingly, shockingly good album! Whatever part some medieval tyrant might play, the opening title rocker's chorus of "Here I am, not quite dying, my body left to rot in a hollow tree" has got to reference his semi-recent death-defying and subsequent silence. I love high-quality Bowie (though not so much the average stuff), and this should fit the bill. "Listen."

#2 Nomad - Bombino
"Azamane Tiliade" RSD 10" single - Bombino

"Azamane Tiliade" from Nomad (2013)
"Tamiditine" [live solo] from Nomad (2013)

Genre - Tuareg Ishumar
Official -
Location - Agadez, Niger

Review - The Guardian
Download - Nonesuch, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Nonesuch Records, Amazon

Once acclaimed by some as "probably the biggest surprise of Austin Psych Fest" (#1 Live Show of 2012), Bombino is for guitar lovers. Desert blues jams for a new world, North Africa in Nashville (studio of that Black Key). Laid-back good-times music in any language. Mostly new with a couple of updated versions of best earlier tunes: "Her Tenere" and "Imuhar."

#3 The Cult of Dom Keller - The Cult of Dom Keller
The Seed: Relics & Rarities - The Cult of Dom Keller

"Swamp Heron Blues" from The Cult of Dom Keller (2013)
"We left this world behind for a place in the sun" from The Seed: Relics & Rarities (2013)

Genre - Drone-Psych-Rock
Official/Facebook -
Location - Nottingham, U.K.

Full-Album Stream - Reverberation Society, Mannequin Records
Review - Roadburn
Download - Reverberation Society, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - US vinyl/MP3, Euro vinyl/MP3, Euro CD

Another discovery from APF (#4 Live Show, 2011), I inexcusably missed them at this year's fest. The self-titled full-length debut mostly reissues top-notch songs from previous self-released EP's, with a few swell new ones. The Seed compiles unheard songs and unreleased tracks from their tremendous YouTube channel. A Kickstarter donation reward, I'm going to take indirect credit for the entire idea based on a vague Facebook comment to their wall. Prove me wrong! Beforehand: #12, 2012 and #15, 2011.

#4 Pearl Mystic - Hookworms

"Away/Towards" from Pearl Mystic (2013)
"Preservation" from Pearl Mystic (2013)

Genre - Noise-Psych Post-Punk
Official/Facebook -
Location - Leeds, Britain

Full-Album Stream - Gringo Records
Review - Drowned in Sound
Download - Gringo Records, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Gringo Records, Amazon

Only mentioned before in passing, about Carl Saff... This record was a shocker! Whereas CODK is dank & doomy, Hookworms are more spikey & aggro. Catchy enough at times, quite bonkers often, from a long revered line of its influences. You better recognize.

#5 Danish & Blue - Lilacs & Champagne
Black Tar Prophecies, Vol's 4, 5, & 6 - Grails

"Refractory Period" from Danish & Blue (2013)
"Invitation to Ruin" from Black Tar Prophecies, Vol's 4, 5, & 6 (2013)

Genre - Eclectic Library-Music Post-Rock
Official - L&C FB, Grailsongs
Location - Portland, Ore.

Review - D&B, BTP-456
Download Danish & Blue - Mexican Summer, Amazon, iTunes
Download Black Tar Vols 4-6 - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - D&B @ MexSum, BTP @ TRL

Lilacs & Champagne (#6 of 2012), they are 2 of 4 from Grails (#1 of 2011, #6 of 2008, and #19 of 2010). The main band's retro-psych-Kraut post-rock has been gravitating closer to the side project's obscure-soundtrack found-sound mash-up's. L&C's 2nd goes even deeper into whatever you'd call it... obscurantism? I believe some/most/all of the titles might be inspired from other songs: "Alone Again And...," "Police Story," "Sour / Suite," etc. Grails' 2nd BTP collection does the same as the previous: all of 2 recent limited EP's, plus additional new materials. Some of it's real cool, and some sounds like working into a brand new bag. But that's what I call experimentalism.

#6 II - Föllakzoid

"9" from Föllakzoid II (2013)
"Trees" from Todo Muere, Vol. 2 (2012)

Genre - Chilean Kosmische Space-Rock
Official/Facebook -ÖLLAKZOID/
Location - Santiago, Chile

Full-Album Stream - Bandcamp
Review - The 405
Download - Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Sacred Bones Records, Amazon

Only mentioned before in passing, about Chile's scenery... What do you like: (A) psychedelic music, (B) Krautrock, (C) space music, or (D) all of the above? I've got a strong suspicion that Föllakzoid & I share the same answer. Kinda weird that it's unusual that they have some vocals, but not too many.

#7 Master - Teeth of the Sea

"Reaper" from Master (2013)
"Responder" [live] from Master (2013)

Genre - Electro-Noise-Prog
Official/Facebook -
Location - London Town

Full-Album Stream - Rocket Bandcamp
Review - Head Heritage
Download - Rocket Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Forced Exposure (US), Boomkat (UK)

Well, I truly resisted as long as I could. TOTS's mutation into an electronic crew was not a welcomed one for me. I tried to keep an open mind, and resisted, then somehow I adjusted my expectations and found a real interesting smörgåsbord of... not quite everything, but a lot. Still can't imagine it supplanting the two previous albums (#9, 2009 & #10, 2010), and I would welcome a stylistic U-turn. But for what's on offer, well worth exploring. O yeah, and that's an experimental, neo-Italo-disco narrative sci-fi/horror-soundtrack pseudo-concept album.

#8 (Ensemble Pearl) - (Ensemble Pearl)

"Painting on a Corpse" from (Ensemble Pearl) (2013)
"Wray" from (Ensemble Pearl) (2013)

Genre - Drone
Location - Seattle x Tokyo

Review - Tiny Mix Tapes
Download - Drag City, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Drag City, Amazon

Stephen O'Malley of Sunn O))) and Æthenor (#7 of 2006, #16 Non-Metal of 2009, and #13 of 2011), plus drummer from Boris (#6 of 2007) & Michio Kurihara of Ghost (#6, 2004). That TMT review calls them "chamber doom." LOL ;)

#9 Find What You Love and Let It Kill You EP - Linus Pauling Quartet

"The Road" from Find What You Love... EP (2013)

Genre - A Mellow Side of Linus
Official/Blog -
Facebook -
Location - Houston, TX, USA

Full-Album Stream - LP4 Bandcamp
Review - Aural Innovations
Download - LP4 Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - LP4 Bandcamp

Houston super-regulars: #2 of 2012 and #3 of 2007, just to mention a couple. This is a ltd-ed 7" EP, with all three tunes written and sung by Ramon, two of them being smooth & sad. Only "USA" kicks up some dust, and local lore. Surprisingly effective for what's not usually an LP4 superpower.

#10 Valonielu - Oranssi Pazuzu

"Tyhjä Tempelli" from Valonielu (2013)
"Olen Aukaissut Uuden Silmän" from Valonielu (2013)

Genre - Psychedelic Black-Space Metal
Official -
Facebook -
Location - Tampere-Seinäjoki, Finland

Full-Album Stream - 20 Buck Spin
Review - Treble Zine
Download - 20 Buck Spin, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - 20 Buck Spin, Amazon

Unprecedented... maybe I linked on Facebook once? So if you're anything like my own personal friends, you probably barely tolerate my occasional Black Metal outbursts. And you know me, I really understand - I don't push too much. But you should really check this one out! This might be your chance to get it, or at least to get past the BM lizard-demon vocals. Extra-cool band.

I couldn't stop with just ten...

It made no sense.

#11 "Stonegoat/Dreambuilding" single - Goat
"Run to Your Mama" RSD remix EP's - Goat
Live Ballroom Ritual - Goat

"Stonegoat" from 12" single (2013)
"Run to Your Mama (Gnod & Raikes Parade remix)" from RSD remixes Vol. 2 (2013)
"Goathead" live @ Electric Ballroom, London (06/27/2013)

Genre - Scando-Afro-Funk, live, remixed
Official/Blog -
Facebook -
Location - Korpilombolo, Sweden

Full-Album Stream(s) - Rocket Recordings Bandcamp
Review - The Sleeping Shaman
Download - Rocket Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Forced Exposure (US), S>u>B P<o<P, Amazon

They were already my #1 of 2012 before I saw them at this year's Austin Psych Fest. The single's definitely worth getting, the RSD remix EP's are pretty interesting, and the live album sounds real good. But 2012 was the Year of Goat, and 2013 was kind of a whole lot like that again. Still love the band, but the same lightning can't strike the same place twice - at least not this soon.

#12 From The Ages - Earthless

"Uluru Rock" from From The Ages (2013)

Genre - Heavy-Duty Exploratory Jams
Official/Facebook -
Location - San Diego, Calif.

Full-Album Stream - YouTube
Review - The Obelisk
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Tee Pee Records, Amazon

Finally! It's been so long since Earthless had something of their own. As expected: relentless jamming. The epic title song was actually on my first Earthless album, Live at Roadburn (#3 of 2008). Their last normal full album... five years ago! Next year's APF should be my first live Earthless - so psyched.

#13 CAN's Ege Bamyasi played by Stephen Malkmus and Friends

"One More Night" from CAN's Ege Bamyasi (2013)
"Vitamin C" from CAN's Ege Bamyasi (2013)

Genre - Pave-man covers Kraut klassic
Official -
Location - Portland, Ore.

Review - Paste Magazine
Download - Record Store Day vinyl-only release
Purchase - Turntable Lab

My #7 Artist of 2005 doing my #4 Album of 1972! Terrific sounding live show of full-on covers. If Malkmus had actually written all this music and this was a record of his new material, it would be higher. But it's cool & fun & great for fans of either/both.

#14 ... Like Clockwork - Queens of the Stone Age

"My God Is the Sun" from ... Like Clockwork (2013)
"I Appear Missing" from ... Like Clockwork (2013)

Genre - Post-Stonerism
Official -
Facebook -
Location - Palm Desert, California

Review - The Quietus
Download - Matador Records, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Matador Records, Amazon

Last post: #3, 2002. More (less?) recently #6 Live, 2011, and I should be seeing them again in a couple of months. Haven't had this record too long, so we'll see... could go either way, or stay the same. I'm getting a really strong Bowie vibe from a whole lot of it. So far, I'm digging it - more than maybe anything since Songs for the Deaf.

#15 Watching Dead Empires in Decay - The Stranger

"Where Are Our Monsters Now, Where Are Our Friends?" from Watching Dead Empires in Decay (2013)
"Providence or Fate" from Watching Dead Empires in Decay (2013)

Genre - The Caretaker by any other name
Official -
Facebook -
Location - Manchester, Britain

Full-Album Stream - Bandcamp, SoundCloud
Review - FACT Mag
Download - Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Forced Exposure (US), Amazon

The Caretaker was notably #10 of 2011, #1 Drone/Ambient of 2005, #3 Drone/Ambient of 2009. Plus you can read all about the Leyland Kirby Sadness... trilogy. The Stranger now sits somewhere between The Caretaker (disintegrating audio of memories) & later Leyland Kirby (rhythms 'n' tension). Fortunately for me, a bit more of the former than I'd been lead to believe. The tension is there, but the rhythms aren't so... uhhhh, beaty?

#16 The Terror - The Flaming Lips
Peace Sword EP - The Flaming Lips
2nd Cassette Demo 7" - The Flaming Lips

"Look... The Sun Is Rising" from The Terror (2013)
"Peace Sword (Open Your Heart)" from Peace Sword EP (2013)

Genre - Newfangled Downerism
Official -
Facebook -
Location - Oklahoma City, Okla.

Review - Consequence of Sound
Download - Amazon (P.S. EP), iTunes
Purchase - Flaming Lips Store (ltd-ed vinyl), Amazon

Can't list all of their accolades again - just did that last weekend for the #2 of 2002 module. The Terror's the "Dark Side Of The Coyne" album. You definitely want to be prepared, and in an appropriate mood. Heavy, man. There's a lot to unpack, but do you want to? The Peace Sword EP seems a little bunk to me, except for the OST title track. Maybe I just haven't been in that mood yet. Brand new '83 demo 7" was just released on Christmas Eve, and my turntable's messed up. Probably super-raw? It's autographed by Wayne.

Also, this year was a Tame Impala split EP of mutual covers, and apparently a song from a cable-TV soundtrack. Probably a few albums encased in gummy as well...

#17 Engravings - Forest Swords

"Thor's Stone" from Engravings (2013)
"The Weight of Gold" from Engravings (2013)

Genre - Witch-House Drone-Psych Dub
Official/Facebook -
Location - Liverpool, U.K.

Review - Pitchfork
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon(US), Tri Angle Records (UK)

Forest Sword's official debut EP was my #21 of 2010, and here's his full-length debut. As cool as that is, I kinda think it should have been another EP. But I understand - expectations were high. When he hits a roll though, there's a pretty unique alchemy. All the various components (which are mostly pretty obvious) merge & interact & transmute in unexpected ways. Also, nice job getting a Lee "Scratch" Perry remix!

#18 Earth Rocker - Clutch

"Earth Rocker" from Earth Rocker (2013)
"Mr. Freedom" from Earth Rocker (2013)

Genre - Rawk
Official -
Facebook -
Location - Frederick, MD

Full-Album Stream - YouTube
Review - Sputnik Music
Download - Amazon (live bonus), iTunes
Purchase - Amazon, ltd-ed 2xLP (w/ live disc)

Clutch return to rockin' form (#3, 1995)! It's been awhile since I've really dug what they were doing. I had tickets to their local show in May, but couldn't make it. Turns out they used some of that set for a later ltd-ed vinyl bonus disc.

#19 Shapwick - Jon Brooks
Study Series 09: Projections - The Listening Center/Pye Corner Audio
Study Series 10: Message and Method - Belbury Poly/Spacedog
Empty Avenues 10" EP - John Foxx & The Belbury Poly

"Please Drive Carefully" by Jon Brooks, from Shapwick (2013)
"Titoli" by The Listening Center, from Study Series 09: Projections (2013)
"Find Me" by Belbury Poly & Spacedog, from Study Series 10: Message and Method (2013)
"Almost There" by John Foxx & The Belbury Poly, from Empty Avenues 10" (2013)

Genre - Electronic Hauntology
Official - Café Kaput blog
Official - Ghost Box UK
Location - England

Review - The Active Listener
Download/Purchase - Ghost Box shop
Shapwick by Jon Brooks is OOP, and seemingly unavailable...

The Advisory Circle is Jon Brooks (#6 Free Internet, 2010). Shapwick was a boutique ltd-ed CD release, then in vinyl by popular demand, because it's a thematic study of pastoral English countryside dread via electronic miniature vignettes. The Ghost Box Study Series of collaborative 7"s has appeared as the #9 of 2010 and #19 of 2011. These two are the last, and they're good but not the greatest. Belbury Poly has specifically shown up as #4 of 2004, #17 Non-Metal of 2009, and #14 of 2012. I particularly like their earlier, funnier material.

#20 She's A Temple - Space Debris

"Time Traveller" from She's A Temple (2013)
"Cloudwalker" from She's A Temple (2013)

Genre - Kraut Jam
Official -
Facebook -
Location - Odenwald, Germany

Full-Album Stream - YouTube
Review - Aural Innovations
Purchase - Green Brain Krautrock (DEU)

Much like Space Debris. Their earlier, more Krautrock-influenced stuff (#8 of 2004, #2 of 2005, and #7 of 2008) has been giving way to a more improvisational live acid-blues-rock jamband... which is fine. Plenty of nice little details spread out over this surprise 2xLP. (I was surprised to just find it at my local Sound Exchange.)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Top 10 Releases of 2002

Quite a few regulars here, but that's what 2002 was like.

... I guess.

#10 Adaptation and Survival: The Insect Project - Tribes of Neurot

"Metamorphosis" from Adaptation and Survival 10" (2002)
"Durability" from Adaptation and Survival 7" (2002)

Genre - Experimental Noisescapes
Official -
Location - Oakland, CA

Review - Pitchfork
Download - iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

Wikipedia: "Tribes of Neurot is a side project of Neurosis that consists of all the members of Neurosis ... Tribes of Neurot has given them the freedom to explore practically anything in music and sound, such as 2002's Adaptation and Survival, which consists entirely of insect noises recorded and mixed to create something that sounds entirely different." O yeah, and it was released on vinyl as a 3-disc box-set of 5", 7" and 10" platters meant to be mixed & matched, at various speeds. If I'd ever owned the vinyl edition, this would be much higher.

Neurosis was #9 of 1996, and Steve von Till's solo psych-folk-drone identity Harvestman ranked #5 of 2009, #12 of 2010, and #2 Drone-Ambient of 2005. The #10 spot could have easily gone to either: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind OST by Jeremy Soule (Honorable Mention, 2011), or The Disintegration Loops I by William Basinski (re-released as #1 archival of 2012). But this won a close call - awesome idea, interesting sounds, different.

#9 Murray Street - Sonic Youth

"The Empty Page" from Murray Street (2002)
"Disconnection Notice" from Murray Street (2002)

Genre - Late-Period Sonick
Official -
Location - New Yawk City

Review - Pop Matters
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

Loved me some Sonic Youth back in the day: #1 of 1987, #2 of 1988, and #9 of 1990. Although here's an older, more mature (boring) Youth, this is a pretty solid (if boring) album. And there might be no more Sonick song title than "Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style." Lest you think it's only all the Thurston show... Free Lee offers the solid "Karen Revisited" - and Kim serves up a couple, notably "Sympathy for the Strawberry" (even if both are a bit overlong). Either way, I'm glad I got the chance to revisit it, better than I remembered.

Full album stream.

#8 Sea Change - Beck

"Lost Cause" from Sea Change (2002)
"Guess I'm Doing Fine" from Sea Change (2002)

Genre - Earnest Folkiness
Official -
Location - El Lay, I'm assuming...

Review - Rolling Stone
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

And here's another boring album. Beck is sad, and so he kind of makes a Nick Drake album, which turns out better than it really should have. I'm kind of serious - this is mostly mellow, acoustic folk-pop, with lots of accompaniment, and Beck singing fairly sad & straightforward lyrics, in his deepest possible voice. Wow, I had forgotten that he'd previously been listed for Odelay (#6, 1996).

O yeah, 2002 was also the year I saw Beck & The Flaming Lips (see below) play together at Jones Hall: concert review / ACL 2 days prior / setlist (first ever "Who Loves The Sun?"!). I kinda forgot that Flaming Lips released their own version of "The Golden Age" on some EP.

Full album stream (of Sea Change).

#7 Oceanic - Isis
Getting Sentimental EP - House of Low Culture

"The Beginning and The End" by Isis, from Oceanic (2002)
"Getting Sentimental" by House of Low Culture, from Getting Sentimental EP (2002)

Genre - Second-Wave Post-Metal
Official -
Location - Los Angeles, Calif.

Review - Sputnik Music
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

So that's 3 straight albums with the exact same pattern - bought them, listened to them, liked them okay, and left them behind. But while reviewing for this very exact same list, came to appreciate them much more than ever before. Oceanic is a whole lot better than I had ever given it credit for - compared to my other, more preferred Isis albums (#3, 2009 & #3, 2004). I think I ended up getting this one after those, and it's a bit rawer... so maybe I just never reached for Oceanic when I was in an Isis mood.

[Note to self: write a 3,000-word post on the idea of artists peripheral to a given personal canon and how that leads to a more limited set of album(s) standing in for their whole oeuvres & even possibly entire styles.] "Weight" was a classic later, longer tune. And also, Isis was our #5 Live Show of 2009. Wish I could have caught them live more often. Here's this album opener live.

House of Low Culture (#10, 2003) is like Tribes of Neurot of Isis: mostly singer-guitarist Aaron Turner, but this EP also features bassist Jeff Caxide.

Oceanic full album stream.
For some reason, this EP is not on the HOLC Bandcamp.

FYI - 2002 was a huge year for post-rock (a favorite genre) with 3 major albums (that I've never owned): Yanqui U.X.O. by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Source Code + Tags by ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, & Yet & Yet by Do Make Say Think.

#6 Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - Wilco

"War on War (live)" from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
"Heavy Metal Drummer (live)" from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

Genre - Noise-Pop Dad-Rock
Official -
Location - Chicago, IL

Review - Paste Magazine
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

I used to hear "California Stars" on KPFT, but I didn't really have any connection to Wilco. So I completely missed all the internet ruckus over all the label issues & release of this album. Where I finally discovered them was at the 1st ACL Fest in 2002 (setlist). I still remember Jeff Tweedy's intro to "Jesus, Etc.": "This song is about Jesus... the exclamation."

So far, Wilco's been looming around the edges of some Top 10's: #12 of 2009, #13 of 2007, #9 Repertoire of 2005, Honorable Mentions of 2011, and #7 Live of 2011. This album's definitely one of their best studio efforts. Nice try, boys! But seriously, though... because it's regularly considered one of the best records of the 2000s, just can't help but be overrated. Opener "I am Trying to Break your Heart" is iconic of a generally much less noisy-experimental real-band-with-a-singer-songwriter album; so much so that they named a whole official documentary after it. YHF covers a lot of ground: groover "I'm the Man who Loves You," live-staple "Ashes of American Flags," droner-ballad "Poor Places."

Full album stream.

Good record. It's no Sons of Northern Darkness though...

#5 Sons of Northern Darkness - Immortal

"Sons of Northern Darkness" from Sons of Northern Darkness (2002)
"In My Kingdom Cold" from Sons of Northern Darkness (2002)

Genre - Trve Kvlt Norwegian Black Metal
Official -
Location - Bergen, Norway

Review - Encyclopaedia Metallum
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

An easy #1 Live Show of 2011. "One by One" was maybe kind of a weird single, but I don't know much about marketing Black Metal in the early-21st century. Just noticed that the official video's for a 3-minute single-edit version... which makes a bit more sense than the full 5-minute version. You know how everyone just looooves "Tyrants?" That's some rock & roll infusion into the ol' Black Metal orthodoxy - makes some people mad though. "Antarctica" ... is cold. You might even say 'grim & frostbitten.' Immortal fit in a lot of nice touches along with their outrageous pummeling - a weird guitar lead, some vocal special effects, whatever.

Full SOND stream.

If interested in more 2002 Black Metal, maybe try Romanian band Negură Bunget's 'n Crugu Bradului (I, II, III, IV).

#4 The Bootleg Series, Volume 5: Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue - Bob Dylan

"Tangled Up In Blue" from Live 1975 (2002)
"Romance in Durango," Live (1975)

Genre - Mid-'70s Bob Dylan Live
Official -
Location - America

Review - Tiny Mixtapes
Download - iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

The great Bob Dylan (#3 of 1966, #12 of 1969, #5 of 1974, part of #9, 1988 and #6 Live of 2009) at one of his occasional peaks. I'd consider this the best of the Bootleg Series - at least so far. This was famously a small-venue tour with a crackerjack band: Mick Ronson (The Spiders From Mars), Roger McGuinn (The Byrds), T-Bone Burnett, Bob Neuwirth, Rob Stoner & Howie Wyeth... also with Joan Baez and Ronee Blakeley.

Copyright controls are keeping you from hearing more. I could only find this partial video of the mighty "Isis" (I guess to avoid YouTube security). You can stream a 10/31/75 bootleg, though. That tape probably gives a more accurate picture of a typical show, whereas the official release is more of a highlight reel.

Just look at that tracklist!

#3 Songs for the Deaf - Queens of the Stone Age

"No One Knows" from Songs for the Deaf (2002)
"Go With The Flow" from Songs for the Deaf (2002)

Genre - Stoner-Pop
Official -
Location - LA, CA

Review - NME
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

Haven't talked too much about QOTSA - just #6 of 2003 (well, as Desert Sessions), plus #6 Live of 2011. I guess mainly since we're going backwards, and I dig the earliest stuff the most.

Ummm, do you realize that maybe not everyone can pull Dave Grohl out of drumming retirement? The band at this point was Josh H., Nick O., Dave G., and Mark Lanegan. What?! Also, Dean Ween (see below) plays guitar on three tracks here. Mang. That last one 'here' (album closer) could not be further from "You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire" (kick-off track). But that's what you got back when Nick was on the scene. Cool songs, bro!

Although I want to go on record that I'm philosophically opposed to having skits on your album, at least Lux Interior was involved. Wikipedia is so useful! I'd totally forgotten about their cover of Roky Erickson's "Bloody Hammer" (from #2, 1980). Which they played live here in Houston, and after the show I ran into Nick, and commented on us Texans appreciating the Roky love. Pretty sure I didn't realize at the time that it was a vinyl bonus track for this album. [Edit, 12/26: I was informed last weekend that Mondo Generator played that song live here in Houston, not QOTSA themselves.]

Full album stream.

#2 Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots + EP's - The Flaming Lips
Finally, The Punk Rockers Are Taking Acid - The Flaming Lips
The Day They Shot A Hole in the Jesus Egg - The Flaming Lips

"Fight Test" from Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)
"Do You Realize??" from Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)

Genre - Post-Indie Symphonic Electro-Pop
Official -
Location - Oklahoma City, Okla.

Review - The A/V Club
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

Boasting a top-tier discography, the Flaming Lips have already shown up on numerous Top 10's: #3 of 1987, #1 of 1993, #1 of 1995 & #4 of 2006, #5 Repertoire of 2005, #11 of 2007, #13 of 2009, co-#2 other/live of 2006, #8 Live of 2010, and #6 Live of 2012.

I originally thought Yoshimi was a major step down after the previous album, with perhaps a bit too much electronical backings. Still a valid opinion, but I've gradually warmed to it more & more. "One More Robot / Sympathy 3000-21" works like a lot of The Soft Bulletin, but with a very different approach.

Although most of the Yoshimi EP's actually came out the following year, I'm going to consider them here. The Fight Test EP had the album opener, covers of Kylie Minogue, Beck (see above), and Radiohead, plus lots of others spread out over like nineteen EP versions. The Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell EP started off with 3 all-new, all-different tunes: "Assassination of the Sun," "I'm a Fly in a Sunbeam (Following the Funeral Procession of a Stranger)," and "Sunship Balloons," before even getting to the title track. Oh, man, it would take forever to chronicle a few albums' worth of B-sides for all the various "Do You Realize??" and "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1" singles, and the later Yoshimi Wins! EP. Let's move on...

2002 was also when the 1984-91 Restless album re-issue packages - Finally, The Punk Rockers Are Taking Acid and The Day They Shot A Hole in the Jesus Egg - were unleashed. More tons o' bonus tracks, I'll mention only two: Finally's "After the Gold Rush," from The Bridge: A Tribute to Neil Young benefit comp (1989). And Jesus Egg's CD premiere of "Lucifer Rising," originally on the Unconsciously Screamin' EP (1990).

O yeah, this was where the Lips first won a Grammy: Best Rock Instrumental for "Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia)." Internet tells me they've got 2 more since. (FYI - I'm pretty sure I saw Enik the Altrusian in that video.)

Full Yoshimi album rip.

#1 Live at Stubb's, 7/2000 - Ween

"A Tear for Eddie" from Live at Stubb's, 7/2000 (2002)
"L.M.L.Y.P." Live at Stubb's (7/2000)

Genre - Ween Live
Official -
Location - New Hope, Penn.

Review - Mark Prindle
Download - iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

As you may have heard, I enjoy the band Ween: #1 of 1990, #1 of 1996, #3 of 2003, #1 Archival of 2005, #15 of 2007, co-#2 other/live of 2006, #2 Live of 2010, and #5 Live of 2011. Those live rankings might be another hint - they have been a great live band for many years. (Hehe, I was at this show too. Houston!) Okay, Stubb's BBQ of Austin, TX - somewhat of a second home for them - I think this live document ranks among their best of all time. And that's some tough competition.

Full album stream.

And you can stream or D/L both epic shows: 07/07 & 07/08.