Archive for 'Year In Review'

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″

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!

Best of 2016

Top Singles of 2016
1. Daughn Gibson Vas 1 MP3s
2. Reckonwrong Whities 009 12″
3. CC Dust CC Dust 12″
4. Avalon Emerson Whities 006 12″
5. Asda The Abyss 12″
6. Sébastien Casanova Cloudy Others 12″
7. DJ Fett Burger Burger Trip 12″
8. Bruce Steals 12″
9. Primetime Going Places 7″
10. Good Throb Good Throb 7″
11. In School Cement Fucker 7″
12. Hogg Solar Phallic Lion 12″
13. Peder Mannerfelt Black Holes, Or How We Lost Solidarity 12″
14. JJ Doll JJ Doll 7″
15. Machine Woman Genau House 12″
16. Bad Noids It’s A Doggie Bag World 7″
17. Minor Science Whities 008 12″
18. Battle Breaks compilation 12″
19. Watery Love Ned’s Dreamcatcher / Meg’s Dreamcatcher 7″
20. Beatrice Dillon Can I Change My Mind? 12″

Honorable Mention:
CO/R Gudrun 12″
Burial Young Death / Nightmarket 12″
Powder Afrorgan 12″
Sheer Mag Sheer Mag III 7″
Wolf Dem Hydrophobia 12″

Top Albums of 2016
1. GFOTY Call Him A Doctor
2. Powell Sport
3. Neutral Neutral
4. Beatrice Dillon & Rupert Clervaux Two Changes
5. Anxiety Anxiety
6. Low Jack Lighthouse Stories
7. Nicolas Jaar Sirens
8. Ectoplasm Girls New Feeling Come
9. Demdike Stare Wonderland
10. Andy Stott Too Many Voices
11. Steven Julien Fallen
12. Fatima Al Qadiri Brute
13. Oren Ambarchi Hubris
14. Kyo Aktuel Musik
15. Steve Gunn Eyes On The Lines
16. Exploded View Exploded View
17. Sam Shalabi Isis & Osiris
18. Marie Davidson Adieux Au Dancefloor
19. M Ax Noi Mach On The Edge
20. Gate Saturday Night Fever

Honorable Mention:
Fadensonnen Gutter Wanderer
Purling Hiss High Bias
Anohni Hopelessness
Nuel Hyperborreal
Félicia Atkinson & Jefre Cantu-Ledesma Comme Un Seul Narcisse

I trust the Yellow Green Red readership to be an engaged, thoughtful bunch, so I’m not going to remind you of the myriad ways 2016 sucked. Instead, I’ll tell you that I fell in love with a lot of great new music over the past twelve months, the best of which I’ve listed here. The Whities label out of the UK scored big with me, tipping me off to a world of new and young-ish electronic artists writing unorthodox smash hits. I also noticed that all-dude hardcore-punk bands are ranking lower on my lists than ever before – hey guys, take some inspiration from the wild n’ crazy femmes doing punk and hardcore bands and create something unique and interesting, not just authentically-inspired retreads! Counter Intuits, Powell, Lumpy & The Dumpers and Sauna Youth impressed me most from a live setting (Sauna Youth managed to do so on two continents), but it was Youth Of Today’s performance (on the eve of my birthday) that had me most inspired and charged, finally hearing those positive anthems live – perhaps that’s just the aging white dad in me. And most “2016” of all, both my favorite EP and album of the year were digital-only releases, speaking to the fact that while there is an unfathomable amount of underground music being made, the economy that holds it together seems to be weaker than ever, rendering vinyl records more of a collectible totem than a functioning form of music. Do me a favor and buy some records from the artists reviewed in these pages, so that our underground music scene might continue another year!

Daughn Gibson Vas 1 (no label)
I swear to you, if and when Daughn Gibson releases lousy music I will honestly tell you so, but he continues to captivate me with this understated four-track EP, released by himself on Bandcamp to a stunning absence of fanfare. He briefly explains what each song is about on the Vas 1 page (four twisted and disarming short stories come to life), so I’ll tell you that the music goes back to his sample-delic All Hell roots. The country is there, but it gets pushed aside a bit by some stunning David Bowie glam, ECM jazz-cum-Bad Seeds blues-rock and the Kate Bush-iest music Kate Bush never sang over. His voice is as rich and supple as ever, just a bit more weary and knowing (and the way he enunciates “viva” in “White On White” melts the ice in my drink). I doubt this will ever make it on vinyl, or in the ears of the millions of people who would love to hear it, but I’m content with Daughn Gibson remaining a personally precious gift, although I’m hoping you decide to share in this pleasure.

GFOTY Call Him A Doctor (PC Music)
PC Music is about three years beyond all the hot-takes and online chatter, basically a tired trend faded from our cultural consciousness, and GFOTY is one of its least revered artists. And yet here I am telling you that Call Him A Doctor is the catchiest, most entertaining, most subversively cynical, most gloriously stupid thing I’ve heard this year! There’s quite a bit of musical ground covered through this nine-song “album”, but it’s essentially everything I love and hate about the past three decades of suburban pop radio distilled and presented with a biting self-awareness. Live guitars (and maybe bass?) are prominently featured throughout, on songs that could easily be Fallout Boy or Weezer’s next big smash, but they are followed by elastic noise blasts that remind me of BiS Kaidan, the Japanese noise / J-pop collaboration that I never thought anything else would sound like in the history of music. In addition, there are a couple Wilson Phillips-esque ballads that are practically insulting to the listener (their instant sing-along memorability wielded like some sort of intentional virus), and my favorite, the title track, which feels like Smashmouth and Sugar Ray using Billy Squier as the inspiration to their next “summer jam”. And I didn’t even mention the song that opts for gibberish in place of lyrics (“The Argument”), so nihilistic and poppy that I leave it feeling like the concept of lyrics is finally obsolete. I didn’t realize I so desperately wanted to hear a pop record that practically gaslighted me through it, holding an ugly mirror up to my own face that I’m unable to turn away from, but I’ve been listening to Call Him A Doctor at least every couple days (sometimes on repeat) and have no idea when I might finally stop.