Release Date Buffet February 2019

Welcome to the Release Date Buffet! A round-up of all the records I’ve been listening to this month. Usually it’s a weekly thread, but has been transformed into a monthly thing while I am living in France because of travel. Just a heads-up on the (?)’s: some groups are really bad about putting down a producer or labeling if they self-produced the record. The (?) is just a disclaimer for an assumption—don’t take it as fact—as well as belying my discontent for bands who don’t properly credit people who help with records or even themselves for what is a pretty important skillset.


Feb 1st

Beirut – Gallipoli
Producer: Zach Condon, Gave Wax
Label: 4AD
Genre: lo-fi soul

Zachary Condon’s has always had an obsession with the Smiths since Gulag Orkestar but his music never really had the legs to match it. One can only listen to that Morrissey moan so long before ripping their eyeballs from their head. And in the 4 years since No No No, Condon’s been working out—moving between continents, writing, lo-fi soul searching with a one-forgotten farfisa organ on the fritz and pondering on the candor of a sad ex-pat angel. What did he find? Horns, lots of horns. In the same way the Johnny Marr loved the guitar from The Smiths to Strangeways, Condon has found himself enamored with rich, fuzzy, jazz horns hoisted from a Duke Ellington record that on first listen I was caught calling Gallipoli the Smiths-Mariachi crossover LP you never knew you wanted to hear.

Cherry Glazerr – Stuffed & Ready
Producer: Carlos de la Garza
Label: Secretly Canadian
Genre: Garage Rock, Noisepop

You really like Cherry Glazerr. You need a record to prove to someone they are not a waste of time. Something that’s quick and easy like a supermarket sandwich or a premade fruit plate. So is Stuffed & Ready. Aptly named, efficacious packaging, no superfluous marketing. Ten cuts, 32 minutes, one record. Absolutely mint. Theres almost no fat on this record—just patent flavours and Clementine Creevy’s haunting Siouxsie-Sindie rock wail howling, cooing and howling again on everything a young woman has to be hyper-stressed and overly anxious about. And even though there’s not much variation, the quality is so good it never strikes of sameness. Talk about some serious market magic.

Choker – Dog Candy EP
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Jet Fuzz
Genre: Alternative R&B

Part two of Choker’s EP series, because apparently LP’s bore him, or something. More likely, it’s just because his output has been erratic and unconnected to anything other than a blitz of small-spurt artistry. A refreshing thought that the music might just be as attention-deficient and incoherent as the mind that spawned them. By no means is this bad—Choker has just proven himself a master vignette vintner and now he’s just letting people into his cave. Moreover, Dog Candy transitions from the chilled-out contemporary of Mono no Moto to a more frenetic alternative aural space, beeping at a faster minute and putting the pace on the clock with clap and snap beats galore, oh, get Timbaland on the phone! He takes that Toronto Sound and cuts it against a little bit of MIA and a little bit of Anderson .Paak, but everyone should know: it’s all Choker.

Deer Tick – Mayonnaise
Producer: Self-Produced with Adam Landry
Label: Partisan
Genre: Garage Rock

Deer Tick, the country-band that doesn’t want you to know they’re a country band is back at it again, releasing their southern grunge style across the land like a pair of Allman Brothers who loved Kurt Cobain and Pavement. It’s a record of b-sides, but much like Cake, I have to ask, is it bad when I like the B-Sides more than A-Sides? Or when the B-Sides are the first pieces of material from a band that finally hit the sweet spot? Point of order, it seems I have some re-exploration to do.

Girlpool – What Chaos Is Imaginary
Producer: Self-Produced with David Tolomei
Label: Anti-
Genre: Indie Rock, Power Rock

This might be the smartest power rock record released this year, triangulating itself at the crosspoints of Dream Wife, Chastity Belt and Japanese Breakfast, What Chaos Is Imaginary shouldn’t be as alluring, intelligent and moving as its genre typecasts it to be. It shouldn’t be something you equally headbang and drink wine to, but here I am, two glasses in, quietly rocking and rolling to Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad’s vocal and riffwork. Just enough pop to dream, just enough punk to inner scream.

Grandchildren – Grandchildren
Producer: Self-Produced(?)
Label: Ernest Jennings Record Co.
Genre: Dreampop

Grandchildren are just making albums shorter and shorter as they go on. And transferring logical axioms befitting Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond (the lighter the supercar the better the supercar means to have no supercar is to have the best supercar), that means Grandchildren are approaching their best album ever: no record. Right? No. That’s just petulant strawmanning, because we have here the best Grandchildren long-player sealed on wax. The opening riff on “Phantom Pains” doesn’t just tip the scales, but bends them—tapping all the right spots on the neck. The record takes a page out of the folk script and plays for aural comfort without settling for emotional safety. It’s possibly the best album of the week.

Largos Agotadores – El Palacio de Linares
Producer: Self-Produced(?)
Label: Pretty Olivia
Genre: Pop Indie Rock, Pop Psych

Sneaky quick record at 27 minutes, Largos Agotadores are gone as quick as they come. But if you’re gonna cite bands like Real Estate, the Feelies and the Go-Betweens as prime influences the long-player best not run long. If anything it allows El Palacio de Linares to run over itself to great effect and little fatigue. Dabbling in popular psychedelic and independent music tastes without drowning in them. And despite only being only three minutes longer than Grandchildren, it’s three-times less memorable. Instead of risking anything in the deeper ends, it stays to the shallows of innocent, innocuous, ingenue pool music.

Mandolin Orange – Tides of a Teardrop
Producer: Self-Produced(?)
Label: Yep Roc
Genre: Folk

With a title such as Tides of a Teardrop, one expects this record to mope on and on like a metaphysical poet singing in sonnets, but no. Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz go the full W.S. Merwin and just start dealing in cold, hard bluegrass. They don’t mince words, they don’t mix genres, they don’t miss a note. And forget about location, it’s harmony, harmony, harmony. By “Into the Sun,” they’re not crying, you’re crying and by records end the cathartic cloud, thick and strong, parts after the rain. No thunderstorm, just a consistent drizzle perforated by the sound of fingerpicked mandolin teardrops plucked from the heavens. A Mandolin Orange slice of post-romance paradise (sorry, Grandchildren)

Spielbergs – This is Not the End
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: By The Time It Gets Dark
Genre: Alternative Rock

The Spielbergs really enjoyed the mid-2000’s emo-rock movement. Like, really enjoyed it. Taking their cues from equal parts Thirty Seconds to Mars and equal parts Muse, the Spielbergs are loud, proud and don’t give a damn about dynamic sound. This is an emotionally draining record because of that, and despite having a fair few tasteful nods to idols of a bygone era, this record never quite transcends them. Mileage will vary depending on whether or not one liked the new-wave goth of the nascent century. But as for a tried-and-true Purist Cure fan (a Curist, if you will), blegh, Parquet Courts and IDLES already tick the righteous anger boxes.

Feb 8th

Choker – Forever & a Few EP
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Jet Fuzz
Genre: Alternative R&B, Singer-Songwriter

Choker’s final extended-player in the trilogy steers listeners towards a more acoustic route, enhanced still samples and vocoders. It’s worrying that at first Choker can’t help but recall horrific gnashisms and perhaps might pour it on thick with Jason Mraz-like sentimentality. But no, he stays on course, as if walking the Venice boardwalk with .Paak before breaking it down with his own spin on the Toronto sound. Interestingly, the trilogy seems to take on an afternoon-night-morning time cycle, with Forever & A Few using the acoustic guitars and percussive instruments to sound off a relaxed breakfast in bed approach. Stitch this EP with its older brothers and you have yourself the perfect Sunday morning record.

Crocodiles – Love Is Here
Producer: Self-Produced(?)
Label: Deaf Rock
Genre: Garagepop, Pop Punk

I don’t go to punk shows for love songs, goddamnit. And as much as I like Crocodiles latest reminding me of a nuclear fusion fallout of the New York Dolls by Violent Femmes (one’s got sonic, one’s got vocals) spiced up and all ready to fuck on the first track, “Nuclear Love,” I just wish it had a little more bloody grit. Because all this pronounced poppy production is pulling Crocodiles of their teeth. When they mask those tendencies, though, well boy howdy, then I finally get what I paid for on “I Was a Fly” and “Far Out Friend.” A little screech, a little scratch, a little tit, a little tat. Yeah, Crocodiles, Nuclear Love is good when it sticks to that.

Ghost King – Dunbar Swamp
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Self-Released
Genre: Psychedelic Rock, Noise Rock

There’s something to be said about this influx of garagerock ripped directly from sixties surfer and psychedelic rock and injected with just the right amount of punkenness like simple Mad Max style engineering, y’know the kind of thing: a mouthful of moonshine spitooned right into pistons of an exposed V8, a carbine that shoots flame as well as a monster sound. It’s small problem for Ghost King, who on their sophomore prove they can fuzz it up with the best of ‘em. But that’s a known quality, a tired trick; Ghost King have yet to prove they might have something else in the bag.

LCD Soundsystem – Electric Lady Sessions
Producer: James Murphy
Label: Excelsior, Columbia
Genre: Alternative, Electronic, Post-Punk

James Murphy is taking his time for another LCD Soundsystem record and it’s paying in dividends; he’s probably noticed Damon Albarn, Arcade Fire and other contemporaries jump back on the horse and go too fast too soon. Instead, Murphy is letting us salivate, the Electric Lady Sessions just serving as a second helping of american dream plus a couple covers (a riotous rendition of Chic’s “I Want Your Love” wins this record) and some oldies but goodies. But aside from the “get innocuous” and “home,” it’s “tonite” and “u wanted a hit” that reminds us that Murphy has the chops for a good record and some good hits. It’s what we all want but now comes the hard part: the waiting.

moonweather – Overgrown
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Self-Released
Genre: Dreampop, Twee Rock, “Pop Psych”

moonweather’s second record is an exercise in sleepy indie rock and selling oneself as something else; this long-player came across the radar as a dreampop-psych record and I licked my chops–haven’t heard a good pop psych record in a while. And those pillowsoft oil pigments on the cover were only helping the cause, mock impressionist Muybridge swimmer study that it was. But, disappointingly, there was no brain-revealing moment that billowed opened like lily blossoms on a ripple wave. Instead, moonweather took the the moment to be cute and twee, simple melodies, choral harmonies, keyboard ambiance and soft-stomp tempos were all over this record. The only thing psychedelic about this record? The tracks, just like the melted candlewax acrylic cover, fall right into each other and while that’s a nice tint, it’s not the total hue. Still, falling right into this record is a real winner.

Son Mieux – Faire de son mieux
Producer: Thijs van der Klugt
Label: Universal Music
Genre: Dance Rock, Electropop

Well it might just be “Nothing” but when Son Mieux hits some of those notes he’s hitting some wonderful combination of Bono and later period Alex Turner–that vocal strut has just the right amount of power and sass while the music goes for high and dry inspirational points. Like a Skinny Bitch for the soul self-help book, but not too strong, more like a La Croix version of Skinny Bitch for the soul self-help book. And if that ain’t a mismatched metaphor for a long-player that mismatches tone and genre, well then this wouldn’t be a proper first impressions, now would it. So just leave me to my La Croix, my Skinny Bitch series and my Son Mieux record, damnit.

Yak – Pursuit of Momentary Happiness
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Third Man
Genre: Garage Rock

With their first record Yak squarely put themselves in the Flightless camp of modern prog-garage, despite signing with Third Man, and stood toe-to-toe with the likes of Thee O Scees or King Gizzard. Well, not actualy toe-to-toe, but they did enter the same ring with a so-so debut record. But Pursuit of Momentary Happiness finally manages to get a few punches in, feinting with a flauting Jethro Tull left and then slicing a junkyard right across the bow and then kind of just pouring it on with that right hand all night. Hell, before long, Yak’s sophomore record begins to sound like a record the Arctic Monkeys left behind in 2009—not bad, certainly more visceral than AM or Tranquility Moonraker Lair and Casino— and buoyed by Oh Skees’ over nine-thousand decibels attack. But I could use a little more of that Jethro Tully, proggy sound to go from “oh, nice” to “oh, shit!”

Feb 15th

Anemone – Beat My Distance
Producer: Miles Dupire Gagnon, Chloe Soldevilla
Label: Luminelle
Genre: Neo-Psychedelia

Surprising that on the related artists tab for Anemone that Melody’s Echo Chamber does not show her face because this record vibes out with Sugar Candy Mountain’s Do Right and MEC’s Bon Voyage. There’s just an inner pleasure to this softened Currents-era neo-psychedelia sound and Beat My Distance keys in on it, sets it feet, then lobs the javelin with grace. They break no new records, but for nine cuts and forty minutes they toss that Krautrock-influence, never breaking a sweat. They relax a little much in the middle, but they never lose the groove.

Copeland – Blushing
Producer: Aaron Marsh
Label: Tooth & Nail
Genre: Alternative Rock, Alternative R&B

Electronic Evanescence never seems like it could be stylish, but Blushing, sipping on its coffee and sitting behind computer boards and filling the bandwaves with saxophones, chamber pianos and contemporary snap and click beats. To call it alternative soft rock would strike so derogatorily, but the combination of R&B, electronic, rock and jazz elements means Copeland can stand toe-to-toe with modern teen-dream darlings, The 1975, with a sound just as similar. Is it ironic then that The 1975 is somehow the more political band despite being the overwhelmingly younger one? Or is that the nature of getting older?

Golden Daze – Simpatico
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Autumn Tone
Genre: Psychedelic Folk

Jacob Loeb and Ben Schwab’s second dueting psychedelic folk record is sleepy, no doubt about it. But those interlocking guitars, respiring the one after the other, keep interest alive. Simpatico sounds like a much relaxed version of the Barnett-Vile effort, Lotta Sea Lice , which is unfair to Loeb and Schwab—but hey, from the sound of their sophomore record, they don’t care. They’re just playing their sound, a Dream Academy folkishness that should remind every pair of ears that Beach Fossils exist and now have some damn fine company. Let that dream folk play boys, just promise me you won’t forget the guitars.

Ladytron – Ladytron
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Self-Released
Genre: Electropop, Synthpop, Shoegaze

Electric rock and roll, shoegaze synthesizers and trancing trouncing, boinging, bouncing musicality abound on Ladytron. They’re back after a lengthy hiatus and read to let us all know that the party is too. As a record, it’s a tower of power of adrenaline pumped shoegaze. It’s like they fell into a vat of toxic waste while playing around with shoegaze guitar riffs and electropop synthesizers and exited with a juiced up electrogaze sound or have just acquired genre-bending powers to combo together bits and pieces that should not work together just off tone alone. I mean, Is that even legal? I guess Ladytron made it legal and that leaves us just trying to enjoy it.

Producer: Self-Produced (?)
Label: Elefant, Darla
Genre: Dreampop, Surf Rock

Self-advertised as the perfect crossover between Galaxie 500 and the Smiths, LOS BONSÁIS never really diverge from this dreamy beach scene. The Spanish only adds to the mystifying aura that tingles around Hinoki, the music as serene as the Japanese cypress but just as strong. From there the tunes proceed slowly from the sunny beach to the lazy couch, transforming the record from a melodic arbor to a musical potato. No thump or added season about it, just plain dreampop that plods. If the sides were switched, mayhap it would allow for the record to grow into itself, but alas, it leans, tilts over and then spills on itself.


SWMRS – Berkeley’s on Fire
Producer: Rich Costey
Label: Warner Music
Genre: Punk, Garage Rock


Tedeschi Trucks Band – Signs
Producers: Derek Trucks, Bobby Tis, Jim Scott
Label: Fantasy
Genre: Blues rock, Country rock

In aftermath of Let Me Get By, a dream was conceived in the segue from “Crying Over You/Swamp Raga” to “Hear Me.” A dream that this fusion project of individual bands had finally turned a corner, that the Tedeschi Trucks Band were finally finding that perfect jam band balance between blues, rock, soul and jazz and were able to capture that live show aura on Live at the Fox Oakland. Well, lead single “Hard Case” cut that sentiment deep, deep, deep, I say goddamn deep. “Oh no, they’re going country now.” It’s a repeat of Made Up Mind, why does it have to be a repeat of Made Up Mind? Made Up Mind not being a bad album, just a step-back in ambitions, a soul food record. And we all need that, but every other long-player? C’mon Tedeschi Trucks, every record of yours is already legitimate soul food, but let’s not lay it on thick, I mean just look at that Nat Geo thousand-piece puzzle cover, ah, Christ, at least Made Up Mind had some damn attitude, but Signs, despite all its technical proficiency and skill, just sops a little too hard and slows down too much. Its a record that aims low despite TTB having proven they can shoot high and hit. And man, that just depresses me.

Tourist – Everyday
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Monday
Genre: Electronica

Thin air is a real winner, in the most cyclical of relationships, the most backwards of climactic effects. Some truant tautology about the notes you don’t play that brings electronic music closer and closer to jazz the more it evolves. And ambiance is never really played, it’s either recorded, sampled, filtered and layered, or it’s not. A space between the music that is either filled or left to breathe. For Tourist, aka William Phillips and contemporaries like Chrome Sparks and SBTRKT, they have this penchant to fill it with those rustling recordings. It makes those raining “oo’s” and “yer’s” sting a little more when that wind dies down and pull back for the ever-employable “I need your love” refrains. But I have to stop deriding this record for its cliches, because this record is relaxed enough to let them work, and more than any thump, bump and grind affair, they really fucking work.

Feb 22nd

The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Sony Music
Genre: Psychedelic Rock

King Tuff fans be still, your beating hearts will pitter patter pounce on the first notes of South of Reality as the head swirls with Tuffy-Beatles connections. A contemporary of two eras—let’s not play dumb—Sean Lennon emulates his Dad’s more Magical Mystery Tour fancies in stunning fashion and Les Claypool brings the drone. Yes King Tuff and Lennon may find a similar vocal frequency, but its Claypool’s bass and Lennon’s guitar which split the difference; building upon the haunting noise-rock sonic fusion between sludge metal Sabbath and space-rocking Wooden Shjips, the Claypool Lennon Delirium now sparkles where it once mired, giving mind to the empyrean moments—the infinite pearls—among the milky cosmic slop. Yet, while admiring the latest skystone to grace these heavens, I keep crashing down to earth. Call me a practical, historical buzzkill but when does this kaleidoscopic gravy-train groove thing come to end? When do we tire of the perhaps permanent psychotropic revolution? We have our 50th anniversary Woodstock, sure, but when comes the new Altamont?

Desperate Journalist In search of miraculous
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Fierce Panda
Genre: Post-Punk

I suppose female post-punk vocals wouldn’t be post-punk if there wasn’t some throwback to Debby Harry or even Siouxsie Sioux and frontwoman Jo Bevan keeps the pace. I’m just not necessarily a fan of their need to insert a Slowdive-inspired sonic on top of the hungover punkery. It makes the record seem less haggard—a big no-no if you want to cash in on the burnout of torn-knee jeans, frayed leather jackets and smashed cruiser sunglasses. It kind of just burns a hole in the bottom of their boots and what would a punk be without some rock-solid footgear? Post or otherwise, how they gonna kick some ass now?

Producer: Tim Green
Label: Wichita
Genre: Post-Punk

FEELS are a little too poppy on this one—it’s most definitely in that post-punk sound, but it follows the Police school of post-punk: totally, but not really. There’s no piss and vinegar, just simmering discontent in this suburban LA outfit. That said, I’ll gladly trade the rainy existential dread-and-breakfast sounds of Chastity Belt for their sunshine shades of post-consumer puke. They’ll fit in so snuggly aside the Cherry Glazerr, Speedy Ortiz and La Luz record collection.

Gary Clark Jr. – This Land
Producers: Gary Clark Jr., Jacob Sciba
Label: Warner Bros.
Genre: Blues Rock

Rarely are the blues made synonym to modernity and cultural critique. On “This Land” Clark sets out to update blues rock into a modern forum to take on social plagues rather than its traditional base. That’s not to say blues has never dealt with racism—it’s very foundation arises from segregation. But I can’t say I’ve ever heard racial epithets used in such an abrasive manner. Clark backs it up with some strong guitarwork throughout the record but in the wake of leading cut, “This Land” it all seems relatively toothless; for a record that was ready to take and give some punches, now it just seems like its punching down on love and vague references to social stigma. Fine, sure, over an hour and twelve minutes it would be fine to keep up the theme of discord—but this shouldn’t be the bread and butter. On first listen, the explosiveness of This Land peters out on a wet fuse.

Jocelyn & Chris Arndt The Fun in the Fight
Producer: David Bourgeois
Label: Bridge Road Entertainment
Genre: Blues Rock

Brother-sister duo Jocelyn and Chris Arndt are like the Greta van Fleet of blues rock. Chris plays like a man who listened to Stevie Ray and Satch back-to-back-to-back-to-back and then did it all over again with a guitar glued to his hands. Meanwhile, Jocelyn sings like Lou Ann Barton before the whiskey sets in. Given these ingredients, producer David Bourgeois lives up to his name and make some facile, easy-to-appreciate (or deride) blues rock. No more, no less—it’s pretty hard for a modern record to actually “sound” bad. Most derision comes from derivativity in modern criticism, and in that view the Arndt’s musicality resembles the van Fleets’ quite stunningly. The difference? The Arndts aren’t such insufferable twats about it.

Julia Jacklin – Crushing
Producer: Burke Reid
Label: Polyvinyl, Transgressive
Genre: Indie Folk

The opening tom-tom kick drum counts lied to me: I thought this record was going to be our opening minimalist folktronica record of year much in the way Loma’s self-titled effort decided to get off on the sad foot for 2018. But no; cheated, here I am wallowing in an indie folk record that for every self-admitted “sad girl” cut comes counterpart with a halcyon track taking the folk-approach. Jacklin’s voice hits too high a note to be mistaken for Joni Mitchell and her electric guitar warbles too much for Joan Baez’s tastes, but the record is a kinswoman to Snail Mail’s Lush, matching Lindsey Jordan’s electric joy ‘n’ blues with her own laidback acoustic healing ‘n’ heartbreak. So maybe I do feel cheated that this doesn’t bend as many genres as I’d like; but now I have a damn good folk record to get over it with.

Nicole Willis – My Soul Sensation EP
Producer: Self-Produced with Ilari Larjosto
Label: Persephone
Genre: Soul

Bass melodies, chucka-chucka rhythm guitar and smooooooooooth female vocals, fit for long nights in the Magnum P.I. memorabilia man-cave all while drawing a direct line to our modern day Random Access Memories Daft Punk and the Toro y Moi of latter-day Outer Peace. Yeah, this EP has little going for it creatively besides just being a solid chunka soul, so sit back and enjoy the sound of the ‘79 cool cat lounge with your King Kamehameha cocktail and no Higgins on your back.

Sunwatchers – Illegal Moves
Producer: Self-Produced with Charles Burst
Label: Trouble in Mind
Genre: Psychedelic Rock, Noise Rock

For being outspoken garagemen, Sunwatches don’t sing much. To be fair, they know the jist of their music: droning incursions with instrumental sallies into jazz, blues and world music. An electric orchestra befitted full of knick-knack apparatus ranged all around them: they must stumble along the studio like a mad scientist’s lab—the key to all of this music is just lying around here… somewhere—and Sunwatchers profit from all that time searching by making some noise, literally. If you’re anything like me and enjoy using noise-rock as a meditative base, then I suggest taking this record to the park with some headphones to watch them clouds.

Worn-Tin – Cycles
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Self-Released
Genre: Pop Psych, Surf Rock

Worn-Tin is kind of like your softer version of Ty Segall. Well, he looks it anyways, baseball cap and blondie that he is. But don’t take it as a reason to disregard his music as a lesser form of what /r/indieheads regards to be the crazed one. No one ever gave Fleetwood Mac a hard time for being a soft-rock version of the Eagles and Worn-Tin’s got more immediate concerns, like drying out his suit and plucking some damn fine guitar melodies across the space of 48 minutes. He does pretty damn well on the latter (Thank yoooouuuuuu, “Chartreuse”), dunno how he fared on the former though.

/u/VietRooster has taken up the mantle for the Indieheads subreddit’s weekly New Music Friday threads, rejoice!

And as always:

Allmusic’s catalog for all you databasing nerds out there
Consequence’s megalist for planning your weekends around music
HipHopDX’s widget for all you hhh’s out there in need of a weekly fix.


There’s a skill to being horrible. It’s one thing to say someone does not perform a skill particularly well or could use more improvements. But there is a skill in just hilariously sad and nihilistic failure across many interconnected fields. In that respect: 2017 was a miserable year.

Why you may ask?

Because I said I wouldn’t do a listicle, and goddamnit here I am, making a freaking listicle. Laugh it up fuzzballs.


Me, as I was writing this entire piece.

However, for everything that may (read: definitely) or may not have narked (read: pissed) me off, at least the soundtrack to the apocalypse was on point. As if challenged by the world’s need for something good, anything good, the music industry said “I gotchu,” and handed canteens upon canteens of refreshment and a couple canteens of unrefreshing Vitamin Water.

Whatever, at least it’s something.

Music is one of those things that provides a platform of expression for both artists and listeners. And I’m not just talking about the deliberate social commentary of the U2’s or the Gorillaz or LCD Soundsystem or even Common.

Just listening to Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile trade licks and lyrical kisses that would make a Meat Puppet blush was a delight.

Before I get a head of myself though, here’s my list of ten things that made me laugh, cry, clench fists, all three or, ah hell, you’ll get the drift of my thoughts on each subject. But you still aren’t getting a best-of album listicle! *shakes fist in oldmanese*

10. The xx Can Make a Better Album

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « the xx i see you »So here it was one January 15th, 2017, desperately trying to listen to I See You with a shitty internet connection in the middle of a coastal temperate rainforest. In Oregon.

The lodge was haunted, obviously, but it was also the only way in or out of that blasted router. So with a heavy heart, I put on a raincoat and my half torn hiking boots naught but a fortnight old. It was a terrible trade deal.

After spending an hour to confirm the purchase, I began the download. On January 22nd, 2017, I heard the first sweet horns of “Dangerous.” Shitty internet is a bastard. But it was nothing compared to the anticipation.

Anticipation is a piece of work of a person, y’know? Like… if anticipation were a person they would consistently underperform and disappear like soil turned to sand. To this end, I don’t like anticipating anything. Except albums. And hits to the face.

And for seven straight jabs, hooks and a final, thudding, uppercut, it felt like a glossier, smoother Coexist. It took all the dreariness of Coexist and made it even more excruciatingly slow and unsatisfying on mailed cuts like “A Violent Noise,” “Performance” and “Brave For You.”

With some of the blandest and uninvolved lyrics for legitimately interesting and deep topics like self-perception and self-confidence, for once in my life I just wanted the xx to mute Romy Madley Croft and Oliver so they could finally go full instrumental with Jamie Smith.

By muting the voice, all the instruments speak and say more and become more open to interpretation. No matter how much the opening salvo of “Dangerous,” “Say Something Loving,” “Lips” or the power couple “On Hold” and “I Dare You” rock, I wanted this music to art more.

I didn’t need more pop, I know this band can get experimental and I know this album could have been better.

But at least Alt-J wouldn’t disappoint right?

9. I Was Double Disappoint

“Well, you thought wrong, Benny!”

On June 2nd, 2017 Alt-J decided art was not only needed, but required the surreal brain melt of video game moments. Moments where the head shakes and the brain wonders “Am I in the Matrix?” They may have played too much LSD: Dream Emulator. Hell, they may have taken a tad too much acid.

And with a £1 special Casiotone and some John Cage-esque aspirations Alt-J leads violins, horns and a church choir on a cosmic trip to emotional nowhere for half an album. They really want to remind listeners that space is a vacuum, because holy hell do they strand theirs in the great, big Milky Where-the-fuck-are-we?

The instrumentation is almost too sparse. Veering from choir to murder mystery guitar by the bar.

They wanted a balanced indie-rock-art-rock seesaw. So they rough-rode rampaging Buffalo to the extremes of each end. The indie-rock manages to hang on for dear-fucking-life, but the art-rock careens like a coyote down a canyon.

We do always want our albums to be listened to as a single piece of music,” said Thom Sonny Green earlier this year. My ass. They were ad-libbing this shit. Half this record is cold-blooded killer and half is cold-blooded because it’s dead.

8. People Can’t Seem To Understand: U2 Is The Best Christian Rock Band Ever

Songs of Experience is actually good folks. No not because it’s Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby levels good. But if people don’t understand that U2 performs resurrection with the all pomp of a party trick, they never will.

Getting mad that Bono, Edge, Mullen Jr. and Clayton won’t rock the damn boat is because to their ears, they are the water under Jesus-Christ-Himself. And they are teetering on that edge.

Songs of Experience is ready to ride the waves of its own sermon—the Edge actually cuts some chips on his axehead on “Lights Of Home,” “American Soul” and “The Blackout.” Bono’s singing doesn’t actually make me want to claw my eyes out from the boring swaddle they called No Line On The Horizon and back-end bore of Songs of Innocence.

And really, this album grooves. I mean for fucks sake, it actually flows better than Relaxer. This is the first time since Joshua Tree where I wanted to learn all the lyrics to their record. By “Get Out of Your Own Way” I swore this thing was gonna die just like Songs of Innocence.


These Lazari of anthem rock just kept going, teetering on the line between life and death. “People don’t realize how much of a Catholic rock band U2 actually is,” said my mother over Christmas dinner.

Well hold on, let’s put this up to the ear test:

Anthemic? Check. Filled with repeatable proverbs? Check. Slightly in-over-their-head at all times? Check.

Holy shit.

7. Say Your Goodbyes to 2006 2017

Even James Murphy is confused.

The radio was jamming out to Arcade Fire, Gorillaz, LCD Soundsystem, the Killers, Franz Ferdinand, Kasabian, Portugal. The Man all freaking year long. Of that group, only James Murphy delivered a grand slam in american dream, as Franz only released a one-shot and the Killers landed in the solid with Wonderful, Wonderful. Meanwhile, Arcade Fire, the Gorillaz, Kasabian and Portugal. The Man sprayed in mediocre fashion across the dartboard.

If you haven’t already. Get up, smell the coffee and scream “WHAT YEAR IS IT?” all over again.

Then realize that it’s almost 2018—these groups had been firmly in a rut for some period before. In 2006, they were at least all in their groves, so I’m not mad.

Well actually, I am mad, because Damon Albarn promised us a new album this year and everytime I try to put it under the needle, Demon Days plays instead.

Is this happening to anyone else or am I just crazy?

6. Josh Homme Plays Footsie With A Photographer’s Face, Morrissey Mercifully Stops Spouting Off

I don’t like soapboxes. I was trained to fear the box ghost and let’s face it: as a hippy, soap scares the shit outta me.

That said, at least 2017 helped get over two irrational fears. That’s gotta count for something right? Because it gave me 99 real ones.

So I don’t have time to worry about rock stars doing stupid shit. Then again, rock stars don’t wait for any one. Not even their own feet or mouthes.

Independent of the #metoo movement, yet eerily connected to it for reasons that I can’t seriously explain, Josh Homme decided that a photographer needed a close-up of his foot.

A real, good close-up. Of his foot. Into her face. Because, well, no reason can really explain it other than: “dumbass.”

But at least he apologized, albeit haphazardly. Meanwhile, Morrissey vowed he would never do a print interview after playing the blame game with sexual harassment victims and threatened the standing—oh crap, I don’t wanna say it. Fuck it, President of the United—*gulp,*—States.

For the record, I don’t wish harm on the President. I just wish him, and his crooked family were thrown in jail. But that’s beside the point.

Modern culture has evolved to the point where victim blaming individuals goes beyond any standards of decency. Dismissing claims of sexual harassment is just as dangerous as sexual harassment itself.

Moreover, wishing harm on any person because of political reasons is how one goes from civil discourse to civil war. If you want to change the system, you must be better than it.

Now, 2018, can I step down from this box, please? I don’t deserve this shabby treatment.

5. Honey, I Became an Indie Head


Independence begets a fierceness

This has been a year of increased musical development for me. Where once a wee teen angster sat behind these screens, playing World of Warcraft, listening to Clapton, Zeppelin, Floyd and nothing else, now sits a rapidly-approaching, mid-twenties knucklehead writer with some decent taste in music.

One who actually knows what the hell a Gorilla is and how painful the letters xx can sound and isn’t afraid to listen to rap, electronic, R&B or alternative.

Exploring modern music has become a passion. It’s why I like to think of my reviews as more of impressions. I don’t do quick impressions, either, I like to pluck records for every feather they are worth and stew on them.

I won’t even think about reviewing an album until the third listen.

Because if I’m going to write about something, it’s damn well because I enjoy it for some reason. Unless I hate it. Then I only need one listen.

Followed by three more just so I know what the hell I had to have missed. But even still, some records get lost in translation. One thing I missed this entire year until November? Indie rock.

Between Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Beach Fossils, Real Estate, Tennis, Tash Sultana, Deerhunter, Yuck, Chastity Belt, Bully, Kingswood and Deerhunter, indie rock has my butt bumping.

Psychedelic or punk, the flavor doesn’t matter. I want more indie. I want to listen, I want to write and I want to talk about these torch bearers of the Pixies, the Meat Puppets, Sonic Youth, Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins.

These once teenagers, once stuck in their garages, once bored enough to start bands, have my blood pumping with misanthropic, teenage steroids.

4. Sol Seed’s The Spark

Oregon is a very small place. Usually, there’s not much going on, which gives Oregonians plenty of time to think or distract themselves from the sheer nothing taking place.

For some of us, it’s wonderful. For others, it’s why they move to Portlandia, a modern 90’s paradise built over the ruins of old Portland. A place where irony has been so savagely beaten you would think it’s just scarlet sarcasm.

But for every ten people who think Portland is the bee’s knees, there’s a disgruntled hippy already planning their move to Eugene.

Hell, I’ve already hired the U-Haul, just so I can move closer to one of my new favourites: Sol Seed.

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « sol seed the spark »

Playing on that old goofy hippiness of rural-politan Oregon, Sol Seed released their latest album, The Spark and finally coalesced all the auditory elements they had previously goofed with. R&B keyboards and horns, hip-hop percussion and vocals, Gilmourian lead licks over Dead-esque rhythms.

Just to top this kombucha root beer float off, they finally figure out how to work a didgeridoo into the atmospheric mix. Pair this up with some goodhearted lyrical waxing and an electric live atmosphere and you shall behold the best damn reggae band in the Pacific Northwest, if not the entire west coast.

This record won’t end up on any national, year-end, best-of albums list. But it should. The guitars are tight, the vocals are raring to go and goddamnit, they finally figured out how to didgeridoo that reggae.

3. Courtney Barnett Wants to Do More With Kurt Vile

Y’know how I said I liked fell in love with indie rock? Specifically, anything with a tinge of Meat Puppets? Well, that feeling crystallized with Lotta Sea Lice, the collaborative effort of Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile

One listen and nine tracks cut with the air of a seaside shack later, and if you still don’t think Vile sounds like the missing Kirkwood brother then I can’t save you during the Indie Rock rapture.

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « courtney barnett kurt vile »

The smoked out instrumental and vocal duets had me thinking nine cuts was nine too few and after listening through, three or four or 50 more times, I want to add an addendum:

It was too damn few!

It’s one thing to have a one-off collaboration, but to have a solid debut conversation purely through two guitars and almost nothing else? How often does one get two similarly skilled guitarists in the same room who like each other?

That’s something on an Eric Clapton and Duane Allman level special and I have prayed to the baby Jesus the flying spaghetti monster absolutely nothing but blind fate for a continuation of this happy, hazy collaboration.

2. I Fucking Love Old Man Robert Plant

Speaking of that which should be smoked out: Robert Plant’s solo career. By now, this man should be in firm Rod Stewart territory, shimmying and shaking his reptilian corpse across the concert stage.

Nah. Résultats de recherche d'images pour « robert plant »

The former Baldr of rock has wizened himself into an Odin of the world. Travelling across Appalachian, Moroccan and Celtic traditions upon his vocal Sleipnir to fashion himself a niche rich and full throughout Carry Fire.

The latest in a string of winners since Mighty ReArranger, admittedly, my tastes favour lullaby… and the Ceaseless Roar but goddamn, wherever this man goes, I am ready to follow.

Morphing his voice from icy Norse wails into warm, bluesy coos has added mileage to his artistic endeavours. The question isn’t who wouldn’t want to work with Plant, but who Plant would prefer not to work with.

*cough*Jimmy Page*cough*

As such, I prefer not to think about the next Led Zeppelin reunion, but the next Robert Plant concert. He’s moving forward musically with the best parts of his musical interests and influences in tow and bucking the age-old catechisms of old age.

He’s managed to translate his skills into multiple genres, and transform then into records greater than their parts. Probably due his continual turnover of musical minds that work around him but undoubtedly because he’s become the explorer and rambler among his contemporaries.

If you want to listen to a truly evolutionary career that embodies transformations from fire to earth and from air to water within a voice, give Robert Plant’s discography some listens. It’s beyond worth it.

1. Process by Sampha

I said there was no best-of album of 2017. However, there is something that should be recognized this year.

For I would feel amiss if I didn’t include Sampha Sislay’s debut atop this list. A heart-wrenching, beautifully brutal effort, this debut is a gem of modern rhythm and blues.

Cuts like “Blood On Me” and “Timmy’s Prayer” electrify the blood with adrenaline. “Nobody Knows Me Like The Piano” cuts the heart with tears streaking off the wax and you will literally be pulled “Under.”

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « process sampha »

I refuse to believe this list is a best-of albums list but, uh, looking back, uh, oh shit. It’s that kind of of list. Well, to be fair, it’s music thoughts inspired by the artists I listened to this year.

As for Process, well I don’t know what better to say about it then this Christgauism:

Each cut plays as vignettes of grief, anger and melancholy. Regret rides deep in the seams of Sampha’s vocal chords. It sounds painful—but it’s ultimately cathartic; The record sponges itself across the emotional injuries.

And for such a fantastic deconstruction of the grieving process, Process deserves every character in the title of “Album of the Year.”

American Dream: Best (or worst?) experienced when awake.

Among my quote list for 2017, the phrase “may you live in interesting times,” has been in my mind constantly.

And I mean, I’m not gonna touch the fickle subject of society’s wholesale problems with a 200-foot-pole. But like Darth Vader I sense something; a presence I’ve not felt since…

Hold let me check-up a list.

*proceeds to go to Wikipedia*>*searches for lists of 2017 albums*>*eyes widen*

Well damn. Between Arcade Fire, The Flaming Lips, Gorillaz, Queens of the Stone Age, The Killers, Mogwai I can’t remember if it was 2006 or 2017. Think about it, a release list comprised of independent darlings, an incompetent president, soldiers still in the Middle East–wait, I said I wasn’t gonna get into it.

Shit, even Maroon 5 and John Mayer released a little sumpin’ sumpin’ for their fans (or what’s left of them) in 2006. Er, I mean 2017 and if we’re checking off lists, all we need now is Franz Ferdinand and The Shins to complete our Noah’s Ark guest list.

However, one mid-aughts artist had me scratching my non-existent beard with interest: LCD Soundsystem. After being converted to Church of Latter Day Soundsystems through Sound of Silver and the Ron Paul album (This Is Happening, I’m a big fan of the album art), a listen to the newest album was needed.

The summer had me eager to listen to the subversive rock reverend, Charles Murphy lament while the Soundsystem deconstructs an increasingly electronic rock scene. Hopefully I won’t have to think too much about modern society as I listen!


*looks at album cover*>*eyes turn back into skull*


Yes, american dream, oh my sweet lord, George Harrison. Charles Murphy is making this hard. Welp, here goes nothing:

Stylistically, the Soundsystem keeps it surreal. Pulsating piano chords, a Korg synth factory that won’t quit and a weird bagpipe-organ Moog all melt away on the clock, with enough ticks and tocks to make Dali blurt “whoa” with eyes wide in drug-induced epiphany.

Throw in some chill bass guitar and some quite honestly not chill lead and rhythm guitars and oh boy, I’m already questioning if Murphy’s singing about dreams or nightmares.

It starts off so innocuous too, with “oh baby” ready to kiss its listener asleep and hold them closer to stop a bad dream. But between the inevitable rhythm of “other voices” and the haunted hallway walk of “how do you sleep?” I don’t think anything could save me from a bad dream.

“i used to” pops and bops and syncopates with a synth machine from my dreams. “change yr mind” drones with sarcasm and the title line repeats but only changes grammatical clothes at the last minute. “tonite” dismantles the magic of tonight with the malice of tomorrow and a synth from yesterday’s 2006.

Then “call the police” comes on and well, shit, I wonder how smart Murphy thinks he is.

I mean with lyrics like these:

It could be over if you change your mind/
If you change your mind/
If you change your mind/
If you change your mind/
If you change your mind/
If you change your mind/
You can change your mind/
You can change your mind.

It’s hard and I mean hard, like, reeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaalllllllyyyy hard not to start drawing the lines on the connect the dots: do people only change aesthetically and only at the last minute? Is the fetishization of tonight a symptom of American society’s disdain for the future? Are the police really on the public’s side, or the side of the rich?

Is it only a dream because we have to be asleep to believe it?

And for the most part, Murphy toes his subversive tightrope with little trouble. Even his tribute to Bowie, “black screen” features lyrics with more reality than gravity. And outside of “emotional haricut” I find the music, like Chiron, ready to accompany me on the river to rapid eye dreams yet deeper than mere coffee pot thoughts.

What a relief.

Because when the Gorillaz released Humanz, I wasn’t entirely convinced that the world needed a new Gorillaz album poking holes in the fabric of society. I mean, literally everything said in Demon Days is still applicable today. Humanz felt like the b-sides. It looked like the b-sides.

Instead, the Church of Latter Day Soundsystems swerves away from a belief in itinerant preachers and delivers something fresh if familiar. No leap of faith, American Dream plays with but a sure step for the Soundsystem faithful.

Quick Impressions: Subversive, disjointed, gauche. All words describe to Charles Murphy and LCD Soundsystem as they explore the american dream one cliché at a time. The result? Vintage.

Producer: James Murphy


  1. “oh baby”
  2. “other voices”
  3. “i used to”
  4. “change yr mind”
  5. “how do you sleep?”
  6. “tonite”
  7. “call the police”
  8. “american dream”
  9. “emotional haircut”
  10. “black screen”