I’m unbelievably pleased to announce our 2014 SXSW show, DC Against The World. The show will take place at the New Movement Theater in downtown Austin, 616 Lavaca (6th and Lavaca), on Thursday, 3/13 from 11am to 6pm. We’ll have free beer from Rogness Brewing and free breakfast tacos from Taco Deli.
Holy shit, it’s a blog post. I actually forgot how to log into this thing it’s been so long.
Anyway, gonna keep this relatively simple. Fairly certain the days of me writing anything more than a sentence or two on music are over. Bummer, I know.
My top 8 records of 2013-ish:
8. Bad Sports – Bras
7. Bottomless Pit – Shade Perennial
6. Joel RL Phelps and the Downer Trio – Gala
5. Diarrhea Planet – I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams
4. Mikal Cronin – MCII
3. Superchunk – I Hate Music
2. Radioactivity – Radioactivity
1. Deleted Scenes – Lithium Burn
(Cheating a bit, as the Deleted Scenes record isn’t out until February, but I’ve been listening to it nonstop since October. Best thing I’ve heard this year. BUY IT when it comes out.)
My favorite records from former members of Silkworm:
Bottomless Pit – Shade Perennial
Joel RL Phelps and the Downer Trio – Gala
My favorite Austin record of the year:
Wiretree – Get Up
My favorite Baltimore record of the year:
Roomrunner – Ideal Cities
My favorite Chicago record of the year (other than Bottomless Pit):
Robbie Fulks – Gone Away Backward
My favorite DC record of the year:
Tereu Tereu – Quadrants
My favorite LA record of the year:
LA Font – Diving Man
My favorite albums that made me feel like I was in 8th grade again:
Queensryche – Queensryche
Stryper – No More Hell to Pay
My favorite 2010 album that I discovered in 2013 that also makes me feel like I’m in 8th grade again:
Bad City – Welcome to the Wasteland
My favorite shows of the year:
Diarrhea Planet – Saw them 7 times, all great, though best was the Volcom show at SXSW. My favorite show of any kind of 2013.
Dismemberment Plan / Deleted Scenes @ 9:30 Club – Two of my favorite bands. And Deleted Scenes may have put on the better set.
The Evens @ Logan Hardware – So fantastic.
Living Colour @ Park West – First time ever seeing them. Sounded amazing.
OBN IIIs @ some plant store in Austin/SXSW – Saw them 5 (?) times this year, and this was the best.
Rocket From The Crypt – Saw them at Riot Fest and at the Double Door. Fucking incredible. Must see them many more times if at all possible.
2012 was an odd year for me musically, and I largely blame Spotify. The only physical musical media I buy these days is the LP, and I really only do that to help touring bands that I like and to buy reissues of my favorite albums. I still buy a lot of digital-only releases too, but when it comes to actually listening to music, I tend to rely mainly on Spotify. (Or a fewspecificradioshows.) Especially at work.
And that’s a problem, at least in terms of building a relationship with an album. Because there is SO much music on Spotify, and because I always try to listen to something new or to older albums that I might have missed, I really don’t end up spending a lot of time with specific albums. In the “old” days, I’d have a stack of the same 5-10 favorite CDs sitting on my desk at work for weeks at a time, and I’d listen to them over and over again. Now, not so much.
As a result, my list is largely impressionistic this year. I’ve only got a handful of records that I truly spent enough time with to fall in love with, but I’ve got a bunch more that I really, really liked, and would probably like even more if I spent more time with. So I present this list as a movable picture. Lots of my honorable mentions easily could have been Top 10s, and vice versa. The only think I’m really, positively sure about are my top 5 records, which you should buy immediately if you have not done so already.
On to the list.
Honorable Mention Barreracudas, Nocturnal Missions – I think these guys are made up of most or all of Gentleman Jesse’s Men. I don’t love Jesse, but this band put out one of the catchiest records of don’t-call-it-bubblegum garage punk this year. I could do without the recorded belch, though, fellas.
Beachwood Sparks, The Tarnished Gold – An amazing return to form after nearly a decade away. This album alone has me considering moving to California. Hope this wasn’t just a record to work off their record deal and then call it a day.
Calm Blue Sea, Arrivals and Departures – So happy this band got back together. A stunning album that should probably be in my Top 10 if I hadn’t spent so much of my year listening to louder, sloppier punk rock.
Diarrhea Planet, Loose Jewels – Fun, loud, stupid rock and roll. And they tour with like 4 guitarists. Awesome fucking band.
The Explorers Club, Grand Hotel – Another really wonderful record of songs that would have been huge hits in the 60s. Wish more people had listened to them in the 10′s. But it’s not too late. Go find em, and start with the excellent “Go For You.”
Forgetters, S/T – Goddamn good to have Blake back. This album is everything I hoped it would be, and probably more. I just wish it had come out earlier in the year, because I’m pretty sure if I’d listened to it more this would be rated higher.
Milk Music, Live at WFMU - Their only 2012 release I believe. This band has the potential to be fucking huge. Their set at the Empty Bottle blew me away like few bands have done in years.
Mystery Jets, Radlands – A very different record from what appears to be becoming a very different band, but I still loved this record, even if some of you (coughtTHLcough) did not. And “Lost in Austin” is possibly the most epic track I heard in 2012.
Steve Adamyk Band, Forever Won’t Wait – When you’re “only” my 4th favorite Dirtnap Records release of the year, you’re still fucking amazing. You people need to discover this band.
Toys That Kill, Fambly 42 – Another Todd Congelliere/Recess Records album, another record of hit after hit after hit of punch you in the face rock and roll. Not quite as good as his Underground Railroad to Candyland records of the past couple of years, but still awesome.
Ty Segall Band, Slaughterhouse – If the whole album were as amazing as the first 3 tracks, this would probably be near the top of my list. As it is, the rest of the record is “just” really good. But those first 3 tracks, man.
#10: Neil Halsted, Palindrome Hunches
Likely the most beautiful record I listened to this year. And a record that likely always remind me of gray Autumn days driving in Iowa working for the Obama campaign this fall.
#9: Takka Takka, A.M. Landscapes
This is a band that deserves a hell of a lot more attention than its gotten lately. Each album keeps getting better, and this new record – released quietly a couple of months back – is easily their best. It’s textured and patient the way few albums are these days, but there’s real songs and melodies underneath it, separating it from so much of the “indie” these days which values mood and quirk over actual songwriting. Highly recommended.
#8: Henry Clay People, Twenty Five for the Rest of Our Lives
Los Angeles’ Henry Clay People have truly become the Best Rock Band In America That No One Is Talking About. This band has not put out a bad album (or EP) in nearly a decade of existence, and managed to put out the best record of their career this year. And as good as they are on record, they’re even better live. I sure as hell hope that the band survives the departure of their drummer (who’s playing his last show with the band on New Year’s Eve 2012/13). America needs them.
#7: Mind Spiders, Meltdown
Somehow only ranking as my third favorite Dirtnap release of the year, this album makes clear not only that Mind Spiders are Mark Ryan’s primary songwriting vehicle now, but that it’s some of the best music he’s ever written. I just wish they’d tour with the two drummers they use on the record. Oh, and the three new songs they played at the Empty Bottle the other night (12/29/12) promise more great things to come.
#6: Dinosaur Jr., I Bet On Sky
Much like my favorite album of the year, Dinosaur Jr.‘s third post-reunion record is, to my ears at least, their best, and ranks among the best records they’ve ever released. Jay’s tracks are as great as ever (and he wails as much as ever on guitar), but the real surprise to me is how good Lou’s songs are, “Rude” especially, which might actually be my favorite track on the album. Thank fuck this band is back.
#5: Mean Jeans, On Mars
I didn’t quite like On Mars as much as Are You Serious?, but Mean Jeans still managed to make the most fun record of the year. And they played one of the best sets of music I saw all year at the Dirtnap Records showcase at SXSW, where the crowd went so nuts (myself included) that we nearly knocked down the entire soundsystem and speakers. The venue actually had to call in extra security to handle us. I am proud of this, though less proud of the overzealous security guy who nearly killed me during Bad Sports’ following set.
#4: Bob Mould
In a year that saw him tour behind his 1992 Sugar class, Copper Blue, Bob Mould managed to release an album that is nearly that record’s equal. In fact, the two times I saw him this year, I preferred the portion of his set dedicated to the new songs than the portion dedicated to that album. In a year of welcome “comebacks” (though Bob never really went anywhere), this was one of the most deserved.
#3: Redd Kross, Researching the Blues
Redd Kross was one of the first indie/punk/whatever bands I discovered when I exited my metal phase back in 1991 or so (thanks Brad S.!), but I admit that after a brief love affair with the band in the 90s, I kind of forgot about them. The fact that their last record was in 1997 didn’t help. But then I saw them at this year’s HoZac Blackout Fest in Chicago, and then this new record came out, and I’m a believer all over again. Really hope they stick around for a while.
#2: Sonic Avenues, Television Youth
I haven’t found anyone that agrees with me yet, but this album sounds to me like the second album that The Exploding Hearts sadly never got to make. I probably listened to this record more than anything else in 2012, and will likely continue to listen to it a ton in 2013 and beyond. Would have easily been my #1 record of the year had Guided by Voices not put out one of the best records of their career.
#1: Guided by Voices, The Bears for Lunch
GBV returned this year with three records. To my ears, each was successively better (though each had some great gems), but only The Bears for Lunch reached the level of “classic” GBV album. I personally think it’s the band’s most consistent, and best, record since Under The Bushes Under The Stars. And Tobin Sprout’s contributions may be some of the best songs he’s ever written. I cannot recommend this album strongly enough.
Last night was the first night of two small, low key shows on the East Coast by the reunited The Dismemberment Plan. If you’ll recall, the band first reunited in early 2011, and played a series of shows that spring and summer before finishing up at last year’s Pitchfork Fest. After that last show, the band kinda disappeared again, without announcing whether the reunion would continue or not.
Then, about a month ago, the band announced two low-key shows in Baltimore and Fredericksburg, VA. Full disclosure — I’m on the board of Fredericksburg All Ages, the all ages venue they’re playing in Fredericksburg, along with Eric Axelson from the band — so I’ve known for a while that they were considering doing some additional shows. My understanding, however, was that they were just doing shows “for fun.”
Well, last night seems (to me, at least) to have proven that these weren’t just “fun” one-offs. The band was sporting almost entirely new gear, and, most importantly, played seven new songs.
I’ll need to hear the songs again tonight to have a better opinion, but I liked everything they played. One thing that definitely stood out is that Travis’ vocal delivery on these songs are much, much more similar to his vocals on his more recent solo output than with early D Plan material. His singing is, by and large, pretty straight-forward without the various tics and woops and hollers of earlier D Plan songs. The songs too seem to be a little more straightforward, but — vitally — with some absolutely amazing musicianship underlying it, including some absolutely killer bass and drum lines from Eric and Joe, and some great guitar freakouts from Jason. This is definitely a more mature D Plan, but it’s still the D Plan.
I didn’t get many song titles (I’ll try to get them tonight), but in the order they were played, my order of preference was: 6, 7, 5, 1, 3, 2, 4. I think. Now I just need to get a setlist to figure out what’s what.
Anyway, those are just some quick thoughts. Check out some pics below. Hopefully I’ll get some better ones tonight.
You may recall that, when I was blogging more often (oh, say 2008), I was quite taken with The Capstan Shafts. That band kinda disappeared a year or two back, and I had recently been wondering what had happened to them. Well, wonder no more.
It turns out that head Capstan Shaft, Dean Wells, has moved on to a new band called Loud Springs, and they have a brand new 4-song EP called “Wheels to Ceiling.” And it’s pretty much the exact set of perfect minute and a half pop songs that you’d expect.
Check it out below and spend a few bucks to buy it. Apparently there’s a lot more coming, too. Excellent news.
The full lineup and schedule for this year’s Gonerfest has been announced, and it’s pretty great. The festival will take place from September 27 to September 30 in Memphis, and “golden passes” are on sale now for just $60. Individual passes for each show will also go on sale later, with Hi-Tone shows being $18 advance/$20 door, Murphy’s shows being $10, and Buccaneer shows being $5.
Thurs. 9/27 Afternoon @ The Gazebo
Monsier Jeffrey Evans
Thurs. 9/27 Evening @ The Hi-Tone
Fri. 9/28 Afternoon @ The Buccaneer
Fri. 9/28 Evening @ The Hi-Tone
River City Tanlines
Bits of Shit
Gary Wrong Group
Sat. 9/29 Afternoon @ Murphy’s
Cecilia & Sauerkrauts
Jack of Heart
Sat. 9/29 Evening @ The Hi-Tone
Personal & The Pizzas
Sun. 9/30 Afternoon @ The Gazebo
Rev. John Wilkins
Sun. 9/30 Evening @ The Buccaneer
No bands, lots of DJs
Ah, the wonders of Twitter. Thanks to a post by The Rest this afternoon, I just discovered The Dirty Nil. They sound absolutely nothing like The Rest (whose new album you really need to get), but that’s not a bad thing. Despite being from Hamilton, Ontario, they actually remind me of a number of bands coming out of Nashville recently — loud, beer-driven good time rock and roll.
Check out their new video for “Fucking Up Young” below, and if you dig that, download their summer mixtape for free at BandCamp. I dig it a lot.