***December Sixteenth Two
Thousand and Fourteen***
GET EXCITED!!!!!! It's time for the doginasweater best records of 2014 list!!!!!!!!! !!!!
The Seven Best Records of 2014! I've put these in order, but honestly outside of the first one I could easily be swayed to move them around.
1. The War On Drugs - Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian) This was the runaway winner and it's not even close. I listened to this record so much it's entirely possible I heard it more by itself than every other album that came out this year combined. Burning Eyes To the Wind Suffering
3. Pontiak - Innocence (Thrill Jockey) I've
listened to Pontiak for years but it wasn't until I saw them live
multiple times in 2013 that I became a super fan. I never got to see them live this past year (it seemed like they were on tour in Europe for almost all of 2014), but they at least gave us this great record. Nobody blends multiple genres (from stoner metal to space rock to folk to every- thing else) like these Virginia brothers. Ghosts Noble Heads Wildfires
5. Spider Bags - Frozen Letter (Merge) The Bags made it to the big time this year and put a record out on Merge, and it's their best one yet. These lads are aging like one of those fancy cheeses. Back with You Again in the World Summer of '79
6. Whatever Brains - SSR-63/SSR-64 (Sorry State) Ok, technically this is two EPs, but they released each EP on one side of a twelve inch record so it's pretty easy to pretend
it's just a full length album. Also, they used a photo of mine
for the cover of one of the EPs which will probably go down as the proudest moment ever in life. Also also, the music slays. CONFICKER STOXX (OR ATHLETICS)
7. Wye Oak - Shriek (Merge) What do you do if you're an indie rock duo with a shit-hot guitarist? Put out a pop record almost completely devoid of guitar, of course. And somehow it still works. Shriek Sick Talk The Tower
The Fourteen Honorable Mention Records of 2014! I ordered these alphabetically, which I cannot be swayed on.
Ex Hex - Rips (Merge) Fujiya & Miyagi - Artificial Sweeteners (Yep Roc) David Kilgour And The Heavy Eights - End Times Undone (Merge) Liars - Mess (Mute) Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Wig Out at Jagbags (Matador) The Men - Tomorrow's Hits (Sacred Bones) Paws - Youth Culture Forever (Fat Cat) Perfume Genius - Too Bright (Turnstile) Protomartyr - Under Color of Official Right (Hardly Art) Reigning Sound - Shattered (Merge) The Rosebuds - Sand + Silence (Western Vinyl) Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds In Country Music (High Top Mountain) Solids - Blame Confusion (Dine Alone) Total Control - Typical System (Iron Lung)
The Four Other Records Worth Mentioning of 2014! With those reasons listed below each one.
The Mary Onettes - Hit the Waves (Labrador) This would easily be my second fvorite record of 2014 had it not come out last year. Gorgeous pop songs that feel like a late Fall day at the shore. I have songs for this one readily available because I just posted them a couple of weeks ago. Don't Forget (to Forget about Me) Evil Coast Hit the Waves
Ernie Graham - Ernie Graham (4 Men with Beards) My favorite reissue of the year. A hard drinking pub rocker from across the ocean recruits the band Brinsley Schwarz to back him up, and he creates what sounds like a lost record from The Band.
The Shivvers - The Shivvers (Sing Sing) Not sure how to classify this one - it's not a reissue because the album never existed before, but all of the songs were recorded between 1979 and 1981. It is claimed by the label this would have been their debut LP. Semantics aside, it's a fantastic collection of vintage Midwestern power pop.
Fugazi - First Demo (Dischord) This one sorta falls into the same black hole as the Shivvers' record for many of the same reasons. But it's Fugazi and everything they have ever touched is gold in my book. Hearing these alternate versions of well-known songs is a must for any big fan of the band.
***November Thirtieth Two
Thousand and Fourteen***
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> Other pics: The rest of the medium format photos from last summer's trip to Quebec; these are all from Parc National du Saguenay.
Multiple skate links - people are releasing amazing videos left and right these days. 1. Easily the most important would be the release of the latest full-length from Anti Hero, Destination Unknown. It is
maddeningly amazing - the Frank Gerwer / Peter Hewitt
split part might be the best thing of the year. And Chris Pfanner's footage...oh man. 2. Somewhat related to that - Anti Hero team member Grant Taylor also had another video for the release of his new shoe on Nike...he's been goddamn killing it all year. 3. Pontus Alv made another video for Cons where he and a crew run the streets and get great footage.
Only one non-skate link this time - a collection of Depression-era North Carolina photoshere. Click on the link on the website to get to a lot more pics.
Two small sets in the photo
journal this month, both focused on mediocre fall leaf snaps - one from the Eno River State Park, and the other from Marion.
A few music reviews by way of Fugazi, Reigning Sound, a power pop comp, and the two Merge subscription seven inches.
A cold Monday night seems like a great time to enjoy a little post-rock. I've only ever heard a few songs from This Will Destroy You,
but a friend had a couple of guest list spots so why the hell not see
some live music? A four piece from Texas, it would be pretty easy to
confuse them with Explosions in the Sky as they sound more or less
exactly the same, at least to these untrained ears. Not that I mind -
good music is good music, and it's not like I'm ever going to get to see
Explosions in a club the size of the Cat's Cradle Back Room ever
again. They were great live in the sense that the sound was incredible,
but their "performance" wasn't anything to write home about. I'd love
to see one of these bands in a seated venue and paired with some sort of
elaborate light show or visual display - I think it would go over like a
honey pot on a bear's head.
The band that opened for This Will Destroy You was called Future Death,
also from Texas. They were really two bands musically-speaking - some
songs were noisy hardcore, others really off-kilter art pop. Since the
extent of my hardcore knowledge is Minor Threat and Circle Jerks I'm not
sure what I would compare that version of the band to, but I'm guessing
if you like the female-fronted heavy sounds of Perfect Pussy you'd
probably dig it. As for their other jams, it falls somewhere on the
spectrum between Deerhoof and Guardian Alien; let it be said I'm not
being racist with the Deerhoof comparison just because both bands have
Asian women fronting them, some of Future Death's songs genuinely
reminded me of them. Please file all grievances with management.
It had been a dog's year since I last saw T0W3RS
- they were a full band at that time, playing very enjoyable, catchy
indie pop. These days all that remains from that iteration are the name
and frontman Derek Torres. Now T0W3RS is just a one-man band, with
Derek singing (and sometimes playing guitar) along with recordings in a
very theatrical fashion as if he was performing a one-man play. The
music has also taken a shift to something between Bowie- esque glam and
modern electro-pop, but the tracks are just as catchy as ever - Torres
has a real way with hooks. The packed house seemed way into it,
especially this weird hippy guy standing next to me who was possibly
putting on an even bigger show than Derek.
The reason for the season tonight was the release party for the new double EP by Whatever Brains.
Since each EP is one side of a regular 12" record I'm not sure why it
isn't just considered a regular LP record, but the Brains have always
done their own thing. In keeping with tradition, each EP is named
"Whatever Brains," so this now means they have five albums all named the
same thing. I should also say that they used a photo of mine for the
cover of one of the EPs, which makes me happier than about anything that
has ever happened in my life. It's as if seeing this band dozens and
dozens of times has finally paid off! As for the show itself, they
played most of their two new EPs, including the epic twenty plus minute
long track "///////" which is based on a true story of
hermit family living in the middle of nowhere in Siberia. It was a
super awesome fun time as per usual. I think I'll even go see them play
again in the future!
"Y'all bow your damn heads! We thank you, Lord, for mans like myself,
males of the masculine variety, winners all of us. And we thank you for
the womerns too, and how you made them out of a part of a man that he
don't never need nor want, to live by our rules and our pleasures. "
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> Other pics: A few medium format photos from last summer's trip to Quebec that I finally got around to editing.
Old barn between La Baie and Saguenay.
Farmland between La Baie and Saguenay.
Parc National du Saguenay.
Unknown lake on drive from Quebec City to La Baie.
Here's a Talking Heads concert film / documentary / video art that was floating around youtube called "Talking Heads vs. Television." Definitely worth a watch.
Toto's "Africa" and Nicky Minaj's butt make for great bedfellows, as seen here. Really depressing short doc on the drought in California's Central Valley, but one of the most beautifully shot films I've ever seen.
Skate videos! 1. Wes Kremer's "Crusty By Nature" part will probably be the best thing to come out this year... 2. ...but the extended cut might be even better. 3. Finally, this section by Flo Mirtain might be the most stylish. Those French dudes sure know how to look good on a board.
Posted some band photos in the photo
journal this month, as well as a mixed bag of pics from a weekend trip to Miami Beach.
A few music reviews: Spoon, David Bazan, Rosebuds, and Braid. The best thing I heard was the new Run the Jewels though, just haven't done one of my shitty write-ups yet.
got to be pretty motivated to drive out to Saxapahaw to see a show, but
considering that before this gig was announced I was planning on going
to Asheville to see War on Drugs play, this one was an easy decision.
I'm not sure if it's the Haw River Ballroom or the crowd these guys
draw, but there were signs everywhere that stated "abso- lutely no chairs
allowed" which was cracking me up. It was the last night of their
massive tour that started at some point before the Hopscotch appearance
in early September, and I'm sure everyone was counting down the minutes
until they could get home and sleep in their own beds. But before that,
they put on a hell of a performance. It was similar to the Hopscotch
outing, but...looser maybe? Which would make sense given how many times
they've played these songs in the last couple of months. There was one
addition to their set list, a cover of Bob Dylan's "Tangled Up in
Blue," done on the obvious WoD fashion. And top it all off, like all
Haw shows, it ended at a reasonable middle- aged hour.
opener was Peter Matthew Bauer, best known as the frontman of the
Walkmen. Unfortunately he didn't play any of those songs, but his solo
songs were still pretty damn rad. With his very unique voice,
everything sorta sounded like Walkmen songs I'd never heard before
anyways. There was a little Replacements and Springsteen vibe in there
too, but that probably could have also been said about the Walkmen.
Anyways, I need to buy his solo record. Maybe if I write it down it
will remind me.
"Okay, I know you're all sober now, and I can totally respect that, so
I'm going to resist the urge to do drugs and drink around you. I will
still do them, but I will excuse myself and go to a different room."
Mount Moriah - Bright Light. Why did it take me so damn long to spend quality time with their second record "Miracle
Temple"? The first self-titled one is a favorite of the last
decade...sometimes my actions make no sense. Bonus: I Built a Town Bonus: Telling the Hour
This is rad: Steven Soderbergh performed an experiment on "Raiders of the Lost Ark" - removed the sound, removed the color, and added the score from "The Social Network," and created essentially a black-and-white silent film that is a work of art. It's trippy and amazing at the same time. Watch it here. Not much else this month really, spent a ton of time on Hopscotch nonsense. All of the show reviews are here. And there are five slabs of photos from Hopscotch in the photo
journal this month...some good ones, some whatever ones.
Deal with it.
See the above excuse for the scant few music reviews this time, but I did get to both of the Merge subscription seven inches and the very interesting Fujiya & Miyagi record.
For the second year in a row we traveled to a foreign country to see our beloved Belle & Sebastian
- Montreal last year, and Miami Beach this year. Sure, Miami Beach
isn't technically a foreign country but it might as well be - there were
certainly more women walking around in thongs than you typically see
anywhere else in this country.
Our tickets were general
admission so we got there early and got a good spot up front - I've seen
B&S many times but always from far away; this time, only one row of
people separated us from Stuart Murdoch and company. They were
performing as a thirteen piece with the regulars joined by a quartet of
violin mercenaries from New York (as both the band and the crowd found
out when Stuart talked to them during the set). The band kicked off
with the in- strumental "Judy Is a Dick Slap," complete with Stuart
playing a keytar, and it only got more awesome from there. Lots of
classics throughout the set including "I'm a Cuckoo," "Like Dylan in the
Movies," "Dog on Wheels," "The Boy With the Arab Strap," "Legal Man,"
"Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying," "Judy & the Dream of Horses," and
the always perfect " "If You're Feeling Sinister." According to the
band this was their first show ever in Florida, something Stewart joked
about on a couple of occasions. Also, unbeknownst to me and probably a
lot of the crowd, he is married to a gal from Florida, and told a funny
story about his first trip to the state on vacation when some people
pulled up next to him on the highway and offered him some Ritz
crackers. It was more or less a perfect show, and well worth the cost
of airfare and hotel and tickets and whatever else we spent. I mean,
the beach was nice too, so that was also a plus.
A brief note about opener Luke Temple
- I dug it, but not sure much of the crowd did. He has a really heavy
Jonathan Richman vibe - classical guitar, sparse drummer, hell he was
even wearing a very Jonathan Richman-like shirt. The vocals sounded
more like James Mercer of the Shins though, and the songs had a
jazzy-folk-pop thing going on. the crowd was very loud during his set,
and as his music was pretty quiet it was pretty awful. He tried saying
something to the crowd a couple of times, which has never, ever worked
in the history of live performances, they just get indignant at being
told what to do. I would check him out again though, hopefully in
don't often go to large "arena rock" shows - I think the last one I saw
actually held in a basketball stadium like this one was REM (with
Lucious Jackson opening!) at the Dean Dome back in 1995 or 1996. For
some reason I felt it incum- bent to see Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
while it was still possible though, high priced tickets and nosebleed
seats be damned...it's not often you get a chance to see someone who has
written as many hit songs as he has.
twenty dollars for parking, more than I almost ever pay to actually see a
show, we got inside and found that our section had been closed off and
they upgraded our seats to better ones downstairs - score! You can more
or less guess the set list, basically a lot of his hits (both from his
solo and Heartbreakers records) along a number of with tracks from his
new album "Hypnotic Eye." The crowd sing-along for "Freefallin'" was
pretty impressive, almost as impressive as the drunken dancing by the
fratboys a couple rows in front of us...they were FEELING IT. I knew it
would be a sound good and be a professional performance, you don't stay
on top like Petty has for this long if you're putting out a sub-par
product - but I was impressed with just how good it actually was. Even
from the other end of the stadium where we were seated, it was engaging
and exciting to watch the band perform; I was also surprised at how
funny Petty was, his between song banter was pretty strong. They played
for about two hours, closing with probably their best song "American
Girl." It was money well spent.
It's definitely worth mentioning the opener, since it was the rock legend Steve Winwood.
Yeah he played his eighties hit "Higher Love" and it sounded fine, but
the highlight was the retrospective of songs from some of the different
groups he has been a part of over his career - Blind Faith's "Can't
Find My Way Home," an number of Traffic jams, and a couple of Spencer
Davis Group songs including the ender of "Gimme Some Lovin'," one of the
best parts of the entire night.
Eddy Current Suppression Ring - Get Up Morning. I've been loving the boss sounds of Eddy for a while now, but I only recently got around to spending some time with the self-titled debut album. Bonus: Precious Rose
Modey Lemon - Dr. Body Snatcher. I like this band while I'm listening and forget about them pretty much all the rest of the time.
Unnatural Helpers - Medication. Seattle garage rock, pretty straight-forward but decent.
Whatever Brains - NPTO. I've easily taken more photos of this band than anyone else, ever. Their live shows are manna
from god, whatever the hell manna is. Hopefully it's a good thing
otherwise the saying doesn't make any sense. Bonus: Yellow Death 2000
***August Thirty First Two
Thousand and Fourteen***
I was going to say these drawers look too big for him, but I guess if you're planning on stuffing them full of doves it might be the perfect fit.
The Strange Tale of the North Pond Hermit - pretty great (somewhat long) article about a man living in the woods of Maine alone for nearly three decades, living off of goods stolen from local camps & homes and not interacting with a soul the entire time.
Garth Marenghi's Darkplace - Hilarious, poorly-made fake scifi medical drama featuring the hilarious Richard Ayoade and
Matt Berry (both also from "The IT Crowd"). Words can't do it's
greatness justice. Link here is to the first episode, but the whole run of six episodes are all on Youtube.
Very interesting article on the Zamrock band Witch, acquaint yourself if you haven't already.
journal entries this round - all of my photos from the Merge 25 shenanigans last month, as well as some snaps from a trip to the beach.
Actually wrote a few music reviews this time: Superchunk, Total Control, Spider Bags, Protomartyr, and the fantas- tic new Pontiak slab.
We braved monsoon-like rains to get to Kings in in effort to roust up some laughs from Kyle Kinane.
Despite having wet pants for the entire show, it was a successful
endeavor. He was working out material for a special he would be
recording in Georgia in a few days, so I guess this was a sneak preview
and/or we were being used as guinea pigs. As an aside, do they actually
test anything on guinea pigs? You'd think how much they get mentioned
in regards to testing that everything runs through them. Anyways,
newsflash: Kyle was friggin' hilarious, and the special is clearly going
to be awesome. I will be more than happy to rehear all of these same
jokes again; especially if he uses his long story about getting a
blowjob from a mentally slow under-aged girl, that shit killed the
I'll generally try to make it to any Spider Bags
show, but this one was special - a release party for their first record
on Merge, "Frozen Letter." Flesh Wounds were doing the exact same
thing in Chapel Hill on this same night - why the two bands didn't
combine their release shows is beyond me and a bummer, because I would
love to have seen both. Spider Bags singer Dan McGee made note that the
only band they could think of to open this show for them was Flesh
Wounds, and since they were clearly busy, the Bags decided to just play
this one by themselves. Since it was only them for the entire night,
they played two different sets. The first set was the new record in
order and in it's entirety, and it was great introduction to their new
material as I hadn't heard "Frozen Letter" previous to the gig. There
was then a 15 to 20 minute break where the crowd and the band both
refueled their Beer cells, and then the Bags launched into their
"greatest hits" aka every song you would ever want to hear them play
from all of their previous recordings. Including the break I think they
played for two and a half hours, and it was a blistering, raucous,
incredibly sweaty affair...seriously, I think it might have been 95
degrees inside of the Pinhook. A sweaty t-shirt is a small price to pay
for a show that good though.
Duke Gardens & The Cat's Cradle 6/25/2014 & 8/2/2014
The chances of getting an unbiased review of the Rosebuds
has never been very high around here - I've known Ivan and Kelly for
many years. Now not only have they added two more friends to their
touring band, Mark Paulson (also of the Bowerbirds) on bass and Rob
Lackey on Drums, but one of my very best friends for a large portion of
my life, Brian Weeks on guitar. We go all the way back to Belk Hall on
the UNCW campus in 1994, moved to San Francisco to- gether in 2000, and
have been annoying each other regularly for twenty years now.
Since I'm too lazy to write two reviews I'm lumping both of
their shows these past couple of months together. The first was at the
Duke Gardens, and sorta seemed to coincide with the Merge 25 festivities
even if the band isn't on the label anymore (I still saw Merge head
honcho Mac at the show, so things must still be copacetic between the
Rosebuds and their former label). It's always a little weird seeing a
band in the daylight, much less in front of bunch of middle aged (or
older) folks spread out on a lawn in camping chairs and sitting on
blankets with picnic spreads of food. The band had a new record coming
out in August called "Sand + Silence," and probably half of the set was
dedicated to premier- ing these new songs to their "hometown" crowd
(neither Ivan or Kelly are actually locals anymore). The rest of the
set was dedicated to highlights from their long career, from "Back to
Boston" to "Woods" to crowd sing-a-long favorite "Nice Fox." There was
also a fun performance of "Get Up Get Out" where Kelly gave shakers and
tambourines and such to a group of little kids dancing in front of the
stage, and they seemed to have a blast. Of course the downside is the
band still had a few more songs to play and the kids never gave the
noise makers back, so the remainder of the set was accompanied by a lot
of arrhythmic percussion coming from the crowd. Maybe best to save the
participation songs for the end...
The Duke Gardens show was a one off, but a little over a month
later they returned to the Triangle as part of their short East Coast
tour, landing at the Cat's Cradle. It was the same group of musicians
and a mostly similar set list, though this gig did focus a little more
heavily on the new record. Also, no children with percussion
instruments playing them haphazardly. The sound was better at this gig,
but that is more of a function of it being inside the Cradle rather
than outside amongst flowers. Most importantly, it was a good time like
Rosebuds shows always are.
was one of the best surprises of last year's Hopscotch - I saw them
randomly at a day party at Slims and was blown away. I think they
rolled back through town another time and I wasn't able to go, so it was
nice to finally catch them again and confirm that my first impression
was not a fluke. The verdict? It was not. The band was ex- tremely
catchy just like last time, comprised of a formula roughly one-third
pop, one-third punk, and the final third nine- ties indie fuzz rock. In
band terms, imagine some sort of combination of Superchunk, the
Thermals, and the Breeders (the Breeders comparison brought to me by my
friend Brian, something I had never thought of but that made perfect
sense as soon as he said it). It was all quite lovely and enjoyable and
I promptly bought both of their records, some- thing I wanted to do at
Hopscotch but passed on because I didn't want to carry the records
around with me the rest of that day.
The opening act was an all-female group of of Massachusetts called Potty Mouth.
They too had a nineties vibe, as so many bands today do - in their
case, more of a Velocity Girl meets Dinosaur Jr thing. People seemingly
have for- gotten all about Velocity Girl, but their first two records
"Copacetic" and "Simpatico" are still great even if the produc- tion on
them is kinda muddy and shitty. Would love to see those two get
remastered and reissued. Anyways, at one point this hot mess of a drunk
girl in the crowd started yelling at the band about how young they
were, which led the bassist to go on a bit of a rant about ageism
combined with sexism in music; and yeah, they looked really young but
why bring it up? What do you stand to gain? Just enjoy the music and
maybe get less drunk next time, hot mess. Pretty much every band seems
young to me these days, and so long as they are enjoyable I could give a
"Six people left in the world and one of them is Bill fucking Murray. I
know that's not your middle name. I've been watch- ing you since I was
like... Since I could masturbate. I mean, not that they're connected."
The Concretes - You Can't Hurry Love. I probably posted this before but it's no less enjoyable now. I just wish I liked their other material even half as much as this song.
The Midwest Beat - Firefly. Some jangly pop kids who are actually from the Midwest and, like so many other bands listed this time, write catchy damn songs. What can I say, I love some pop music. Bonus: Sister Mary Katherine