Archive for 'Year In Review'

Best of 2018

Top Singles of 2018
1. Reckonwrong Whities 018 12″
2. Upsammy Words R Inert 12″
3. DJ Qu Heed The Message 12″
4. Gil.Barte Sssjp EP 12″
5. Job Sifre Het Bestaan 12″
6. Fåglar I Bur Platt / Öppen Inbjudan 7″
7. Monokultur Monokultur 7″
8. Yu Su Preparations For Departure 12″
9. Khidja Plot 12″
10. Joy O & Ben Vince Transition 2 12″
11. Graham Dunning Way Too Much Time 12″
12. Healer / Dank Goblins split 7″
13. Beau Wanzer Beau Wanzer 12″
14. Pig DNA Strong Throat 7″
15. O/H Market Values 12″
16. Alek Lee Colors 12″
17. Maoupa Mazzocchetti Gag Flag 12″
18. Giant Swan Whities 016 12″
19. Leslie Winer & Jay Glass Dubs YMFEES 12″
20. Parsnip Feeling Small 7″

Honorable Mention:
MR TC & Lo Kindre The Storm EP 12″
U-NIX Nuke Portland 12″
Nathan Micay Whities 017 12″
Nazamba Vex 12″
Alexander Arpeggio Streng Geheim EP 12″

Top Albums of 2018
1. Patois Counselors Proper Release
2. Amnesia Scanner Another Life
3. Sam Gendel & Sam Wilkes Music For Saxofone & Bass Guitar
4. Iceage Beyondless
5. Flasher Constant Image
6. Lolina The Smoke
7. Pious Faults Old Thread
8. DJ Healer Nothing 2 Loose
9. Yoshinori Hayashi Ambivalence
10. Daughters You Won’t Get What You Want
11. Wolf Müller & Niklas Wandt Instrumentalmusik Von Der Mitte Der World
12. U.S. Girls In A Poem Unlimited
13. Matthew Dear Bunny
14. Profligate Somewhere Else
15. De Leon De Leon
16. Gazelle Twin Pastoral
17. Tierra Whack Whack World
18. Eli Keszler Stadium
19. Edward Fortune Teller
20. Eternal Rot Cadaverine

Honorable Mention:
Niagara Apologia
Objekt Cocoon Crush
Lavender Hex Album 2018
Boothroyd Pure Country
Just The Right Height Let Forever Be Only You Tonight

And so concludes the tenth year of this website’s existence. Time flies when you’re avoiding cassettes, I suppose! Maybe now is an appropriate time to thank y’all for: sending in your records to review, particularly those from overseas for whom the postage costs are ridiculous; emailing me with corrections (typos, band info, record label spellings, etc.), kind comments and praise, friendly (or rude) disagreements, or any little message to let me know you’re out there; and telling your friends about the site, too. I write for me, but let’s face it, I’m really writing for you! Sometimes this can feel like work (you think all those little record covers re-size and upload themselves?), but those times are rare, and I intend to continue at it as long as I possibly can – I’d feel too guilty to stop, imagining my ever-growing pile of to-be-reviewed promotional records going undiscussed.
Looking back on 2018, I didn’t really have the one record that I knew would define the year for me: Amnesia Scanner, Sam Gendel & Sam Wilkes, Iceage, Flasher, Lolina and DJ Healer all felt like the best at times, to name a few. The rare CD release made it onto my list this year – Eternal Rot’s Cadaverine (superbly grotesque dirge-metal) – as well as the first YouTube-based release to make it onto a YGR year-end list, Tierra Whack’s magnificent Whack World, which seems to have elevated her from a Philly sensation with 500 Instagram followers to an international Grammy-nominated superstar. I’ve found that labels with strong curatorial abilities are more necessary than ever, as 500 new records are released daily, and wading through it all is impossible, even for geeks like us. Labels like Feel It, Neubau, Whities, Pan, Iron Lung, Growing Bin, Giegling, Knekelhuis and L.I.E.S. have been crucial in helping me discover artists I would’ve otherwise missed. I hope you’re sending them your money… I know I am. Fight war, not wars, and I’ll see you bright and early on New Year’s Day with the usual batch of reviews!

Reckonwrong Whities 018 (Whities)
The proper review for this one is forthcoming next month, but seeing as I’ve listened to this new Reckonwrong EP pretty much every day since it was released about a month ago, I’ve got plenty to say about it. It’s the work of a young British chap named Alex Peringer, and he takes the electro-futurist sounds one might associate with the Whities label and bends them into beautiful shards of art-pop. His British accent is either wearily drunk or just AutoTune-drunk, and it gives his delicate and infectious songs the signature quality of a pop auteur such as he. There are four songs here: two club-ready hits that’ll have your arms in the air no matter how full your drink is, and two tender piano ballads that are poignant and vulnerable, but still a little silly and gobs of fun. I so desperately want to know more about this man, how he came up with his music and what steps he took to create it, but it would be most fitting if I never find out. There’s beauty in his mystery!

Patois Counselors Proper Release (Ever/Never)
Yeah, so I’ve never heard of the Patois Counselors either, but they put together a shockingly unheralded masterpiece, the glumly titled Proper Release. They’re a post-punk band from an uncool state in an uncool country (North Carolina, USA), and they weave together so many of my favorite things about arty underground punk-ish music – the psychosis of Men’s Recovery Project, the art-funk of Liquid Liquid, the carefree bluster of Tyvek, the unbehaved jangle of The Fall, the lunatic squall of Mars… hell, I hear a little Ted Leo in there, some Pere Ubu sci-fi toughness, and the self-assured dance-punk of Parquet Courts too. I’m giving you inspiration for a solid mixtape, but Patois Counselors seem beholden to none of these other groups, so much as they share a kinship in the way that their ideas burst with weird life, resulting in songs that are memorable after a single listen, and of course warrant endless repetition. What do you think the folks down in North Carolina do with a band like this? Do they even know how to properly appreciate them? Does anyone? I’m hoping and praying Patois Counselors take their show on the road, as I intend to one day shout along to the bristly chorus of “Repeat Offender” no matter who might be watching.

Best of 2017

Top Singles of 2017
1. Alek Lee Sfarot 12″
2. Total Control Laughing At The System 12″
3. DJ Central & Erika Casier Drive 12″
4. Edward Giigoog 12″
5. Neutral När 12″
6. Joe Tail Lift / MPH 12″
7. Carla dal Forno The Garden 12″
8. The Minneapolis Uranium Club All Of Them Naturals 12″
9. Minor Science Whities 012 12″
10. As Longitude Blauer Part 12″
11. De-Bons-en-Pierre Crepes 12″
12. Burial Pre-Dawn / Indoors 12″
13. The Bug Humbug; Or, So Many Awful Things 7″
14. Samuel Kerridge The Silence Between Us 12″
15. Avalon Emerson Whities 013 12″
16. Anxiety Wild Life 7″
17. Niagara Comboios EP 7″
18. Giant Swan Celebrate The Last 30 Years Of Human Ego 12″
19. Newworldaquarium Chubby Knuckles 12″
20. Molly Nilsson Single 7″

Honorable Mention:
Neon Neon Is Life cassette
Burial Rodent 10″
Machine Woman When Lobster Comes Home 12″
Edward Shufflehead 12″
CCFX CCFX 12″

Top Albums of 2017
1. Charly Bliss Guppy
2. Davy Kehoe Short Passing Game
3. Kettenkarussell Insecurity Guard
4. Absolutely Wino compilation
5. Porter Ricks Anguilla Electrica
6. Charles Manier Luxus Steroid Abamita
7. Mount Kimbie Love What Survives
8. Exit Hippies Dance Maniac
9. Laurel Halo Dust
10. Leda Gitarrmusik III-X
11. Tilliander Compuriddim
12. Lone Taxidermist Trifle
13. Galcher Lustwerk Dark Bliss
14. Priests Nothing Feels Natural
15. B-Ball Joints Blue Boy Joints
16. Phew Light Sleep
17. Taiwan Housing Project Veblen Death Mask
18. Trapped Under Ice Heatwave
19. Roll The Dice Born To Ruin
20. girlSperm gSp

Honorable Mention:
Maraudeur Maraudeur
FNU Clone Binary Or Die
Civilized Chopping Block
Body Four Body Four
Horrendous New Wave compilation

Let’s raise a glass to another year worth forgetting – at some point, things have to turn around, right? Thankfully, even as streaming playlists continue to elbow out more respectful forms of underground music listening, helping to ensure less direct support for actual artists and indie labels (go read Liz Pelly’s article in The Baffler immediately if you haven’t already!), there is still a vast bounty of great new music coming out, even if it can be tricky to locate. And although it seems like every other music publication telepathically agreed that the same dozen albums were great this year (yes, we know, you all coincidentally love The War On Drugs, Kendrick Lamar, Lorde, zzz…), I’m at least happy to share my personal faves, zeitgeist be damned. From a live setting, two performances really stood out as mind-altering this year: Una Bèstia Incontrolable in a batting cage, and Kite, who managed to squeeze their massive lighting rig into a fifty-square-foot bar. Kite didn’t put out any records recently, but I discovered them this year and have been playing their EPs incessantly – I strongly urge you to type “Kite Dance Again” in your YouTube search bar and start there. Besides Kite, I discovered Hey Ø Hansen a few months ago (from reading a harsh review of Actress’s AZD on Amazon, of all places), and their Sno Dub LP from 2016 blew me away – my favorite new-to-me-but-not-actually-new record of the year! I could get into favorite books of the year too (Alissa Nutting, Lindsay Hunter, Jac Jemc), and desserts (Natasha Pickowicz at Café Altro Paradiso), and wrestling matches, and runway shows, but I’ll save that for some other blog…

Alek Lee Sfarot (Antinote)
This one was immediate – the drums kick in like a Miami cop putting on his sunglasses, the melody hits like a gang of graffiti artists crawling the streets for vengeance, and by the time the gang-of-children vocal line arrives, I’ve already melted into the leather upholstery. “Sfarot” is so slick, so bad-ass, so righteously rude that I immediately transport to the fantasy world it invokes whenever I hear it. Dancing all the way, of course. The b-side cut “Harabait” is nearly as slick, a more reigned-in take on a similar motif, and it’s preceded by another “Sfarot” edit, because the world simply cannot have enough “Sfarot”. It took a friend to point out the inherent similarity between “Sfarot” and Eddie Guerrero’s WCW theme music (available for review on YouTube), and I can certainly hear it. Much like the theme, “Sfarot” has the ability to instantly transform the room’s mood into its own image, one of oceanside cliffs decked with colorful stone houses and winding staircases, speckled with roving crews of sunburned kids looking to settle a score. It’s like there’s an entire novel waiting inside “Sfarot” to be written, and I get wrapped into it deeper with each subsequent listen.

Charly Bliss Guppy (Barsuk)
If you told me on January 1st, 2017 that the best record I’d hear this year would be a pop-punk album made by twenty-somethings, I’d have softly cried into my turtleneck, as it seems a fitting punishment for what would be a brutal year. But once I’d actually hear Guppy, Charly Bliss’s debut album, I’d realize what a joyous godsend it truly is! Charly Bliss are all smiles, fun-loving posi kids from theater class who found out about punk through the Josie & The Pussycats movie, and I’ll be damned if that isn’t somehow the key to pop-punk perfection. Every track on Guppy is a winner, detailing some hilarious and relatable anecdotes of teenaged loserdom with flair, overloaded with layers of hooks. It’s like they borrowed handily from Weezer, The Strokes, The Get-Up Kids and Blink 182 but never to the point of pastiche, only to help enhance their own creations. And for all that feel-good familiarity, vocalist Eva Hendricks has a voice like no other – maybe That Dog’s Anna Waronker on a full balloon’s worth of helium? It’s alien and comforting, fresh and immediately canon, and sitting here writing about it just makes me want to go run and listen to it again. Bye!