Saturday, January 06, 2018

2017 Highlights & Shows # 702 & 703

For my best of 2017, me and my co-host selected 10 albums that we each liked and played these and other selections from 2017 across two episodes. You can download these episodes under the playlists below. I’ve included each of our top 10 lists in this post, followed by a little write-up of each of our top five albums that we liked from 2017.

Dave’s Top 10 Albums of 2017:

1. The Sadies - Northern Passages
2. Chad VanGaalen - Light Information
3. Ty Segall - Ty Segall
4. Dion Lunadon - Dion Lunadon
5. King Khan Murderburgers
6. Oh Sees - Orc/OCS - Memory of a Cut Off Head
7. Protomartyr - Relatives In Descent
8. The Courtneys - II
9. Black Lips - Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art?
10. Teenanger - Teenager

Adam’s Top 10 Albums of 2017:

1. Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked At Me
2. LCD Soundsystem - American Dream
3. Ty Segall - Ty Segall
4. King Krule - The Ooz
5. Slowdive - Slowdive
6. Priests - Nothing Feels Natural
7. Perfume Genius - No Shape
8. The Courtneys - II
9. Protomartyr - Relatives In Descent
10. Father John Misty - Pure Comedy

A Few Write-ups From A Selection of Our Top 10 Lists:

Dave's Top Five:

1. The Sadies – Northern Passages

Northern Passages is the 10th full-length album released by Toronto’s The Sadies, who formed in 1994. This album makes connections with the band’s past, musically and spiritually as well as connecting with the present and future. Several of the songs on Northern Passages are like walking into a wide-open field. With each track The Sadies make new paths and breathe new life into previous paths that they’ve travelled through in the past. “Riverview Fog” opens Northern Passages in a psychedelic folk fashion. It is slow and conjures up the feeling of walking on an overcast day prior to a rainfall. Lyrically the song acts as a letter and combination of thoughts to an old reclusive friend that you haven’t spoken to in a while. “Riverview Fog” is said to be about Rick White of Eric’s Trip/Elevator, who alongside Greg Keelor (of Blue Rodeo), Dallas Good, Travis Good, Sean Dean and Mike Belitsky of The Sadies played in The Unintended. With lyrics such as “I know that’s not where you’re at today/Stay calm in your quiet getaway”, “Long gone are the days/They’ve all passed away” and “But I know you’re where you need to be/Out in the country”, “Riverview Fog” mixes up a complex pairing of thoughts and reflectiveness, while at the same time displaying a hopefulness. With an overall sound that can be described as an “acid-folk-country-punk trip”, Northern Passages finds The Sadies navigating through familiar and new territories. The Sadies are not travelling through a path less travelled here, but they are creating their own.

2. Chad VanGaalen – Light Information

Chad VanGaalen has always been known for his own unique style, one many call off-kilter indie rock. Recorded and produced by himself (with the exceptions of a few parts on a few tracks), the music on Light Information predates 2014’s Shrink Dust. As usual, VanGaalen’s music provides the listener with a different, often darker perspective on many things. Musically, the album produces its own unique rhythms, but at the same time seeming to have more catchy melodies, combined with many of the creepy, paranoid induced lyrics. “Mind Hijackers Curse”, is a warbly post-punk inspired track, “Locked In The Phase” gets more psychedelic, as “Host Body” tells the haunting tale of parasitic demons that “Eat me from the inside/I can already hear them chewing”, but one that seems to bring forth a tale of someone taken over by one of these parasites, to represent and save (or doom) the others. This can be seen as a look into our modern, Internet, quick spread information driven world. A subject that is touched upon in many different ways on Light Information.

“Mystery Elementals” is a fuzz driven track, “Old Heads” is an off-kilter pop song that only VanGaalen could write. It is a song about how technologies need to constantly replace, or regenerate themselves. “Golden Oceans” dips into garage punk waters, as “Pine And Clover” is a haunting ballad, as the album closer “Static Shape”, combines folk with synthesizer sounds. Light Information as VanGaalen stated in a press release is about “not being comfortable with anything really”. As a result, Light Information revels in unease, producing tales of paranoia, isolation, and alienation, among other themes reflecting our modern technological landscape.

3. Ty Segall – Ty Segall

Following Ty Segall’s 2016 noisy concept album Emotional Mugger, Ty Segall released a self-titled full-length album in 2017. This album, is not as noisy as its predecessor, however, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t noisy moments found on this album, there are plenty. This album is also the second full-length album released by Ty Segall that is also a self-titled release. His first was in 2008, at the beginning of his recording and musical garage adventures as a solo artist, with Segall playing the majority of the instrumentation. 2017’s Ty Segall release seems like a new beginning of sorts for Segall. This is the first full-length album where it was recorded with a live band in a room since 2012’s Slaughterhouse, which was recorded with the Ty Segall Band. Despite being produced (or recorded by) Steve Albini, this does not get in the way of the album. It has its own feel. This album isn’t a concept album as was the noisy horror punk of Emotional Mugger and it’s not as glossy sounding as 2014’s Manipulator, but despite what his previous albums have to say, this one has its own thing to say. There is no overarching concept here and the last twelve seconds of this album provide us with a glimpse of an answer to the points I’m bringing up here. The eleventh track on Ty Segall is a twelve second song titled “Untitled”. It is clearly a false start of one of the other songs found on this album, followed by laughter. This ending may seem odd to some, but it also provides a simple sonic example, that Ty Segall may be trying new things and has released multiple albums throughout his career, but, he’s still Ty Segall. He hasn’t forgotten his beginnings and we don’t know where he’ll go next musically.

4. Dion Lunadon – Dion Lunadon

For the past seven years, Dion Lunadon has been playing bass in New York’s A Place To Bury Strangers. Prior to exploring the noisy world of A Place To Bury Strangers, Dion played in numerous bands. The D4 are now known as garage legends from New Zealand and were part of the garage revival of the late 90s/early 2000’s. Dion played guitar in this band and would take lead vocals on several tracks at times, trading off with Jimmy Christmas, The D4’s other singer/guitarist. Following the end of this band, Dion relocated to New York, where he started a new group, The True Lovers. This band adopted a more soulful approach, but after about a year and one album they ended too. Beneath the noisy waves and bass grooves in A Place To Bury Strangers, something was rising to the surface. For Dion and was a raw, unbridled blast of songwriting. During a recording/touring break with A Place To Bury Strangers, Dion wrote fifty new songs and from this list he culled eleven tracks (twelve if you count the B-side to 2016’s Com/Broke single) to create what would become his first self-titled and debut album. The songs that make up Dion Lunadon are filled with a certain raw, visceral aesthetic. Dion Lunadon explores a noisy world encompassing a variety of influences drawing on punk, garage, psychedelic, post-punk and others while lyrically it taps into urban life and the frustrations and determinations that come along with it. Dion Lunadon is an album that was created within a certain moment in time and it is something that not only grabs, but demands your attention.

5. King Khan - Murderburgers

Murderburgers is the first solo album released by King Khan. Khan, who has been releasing music usually of the garage, punk and soul/R&B variety since the early 2000’s, has been part of many bands including King Khan & The Shrines as well as The King Khan & BBQ and countless others. For this album, Khan was backed by Oakland, California band The Gris Gris. Recorded in about a week, the album was produced by Greg Ashley at his Creamery Studio, which is no more. At just ten tracks, the album shows a new depth to the music created by Khan. “Discrete Disguise” is a soulful island ballad, “It’s Just Begun” gives the listener a taste of folk rock, “Run Doggy Run” adds some psychedelic soul sounds to this album’s palate, while “It’s A Lie” brings garage rock flavours. “Born In 77” is a proto-punk Stooges rave-up, “Teeth Are Shite” is a sleazy garage punk track, “Desert Mile” delves into the blues, and “Winter Weather”, the album’s closer, is a slow garage soul ballad. When all ten tracks are put together, the combination of musical ingredients may surprise some, but Murderburgers provides the listener with an eclectic platter of King Khan’s musical abilities.

Adam's Top Five:

1. Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked at Me

There is a clear distinction between A Crow Looked at Me and other recent releases that address leaving behind this mortal coil, such as Blackstar or You Want it Darker. The later albums are exercises in accepting mortality. Elverum’s record details the experience of losing a loved one. In 2016, Elverum’s wife Geneviève Castrée the Washington based singer, performer, and visual artist passed away from pancreatic cancer. A Crow Looked at Me is the aftermath of this loss, recounting in excruciating detail the process of mourning Phil Elverum went through. There is something so pure and raw in his depiction of the day-to-day aspects of life after his wife’s death that truly underscore the loss. It is these minor details, the eruption of grief that comes from the most seeming mundane of events, that tangibly relay this experience: trying to remember whether she liked Canadian Geese, sorting items in her vacant room, and crying after receiving a backpack in the mail she had ordered for their daughter.

For anyone who has dealt with the death of a loved one, A Crow Looked at Me will resonate all too strongly. Elverum never obfuscates or embellishes, but gives direct and impactful descriptions in his songs. On the album’s final song, Elverum recounts a trek with his daughter where they spot a crow circling overhead. Rather than a sign of resolution, the crow acts as a reminder of the presence death constantly has over them. It is a sobering admittance that there is neither consolation nor closure. To the album’s credit it offers no instructions on how to deal with grief, for there are none. A Crow Looked at Me is a painful record. However, it may be the most crucial record of 2017. During a polemic year in which the divisions of politics, race, class, gender, and privilege have been reminded to us again and again, Elverum has produced a work that talks about one of the few truly universal subjects that crosses all divisions and boundaries. By articulating his personal pain, Elverum reminds us of the one aspect in which we are the same.

2. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream

If you would have asked me at the beginning of the year whether the world needed another LCD Soundsystem album, my answer would have been a resounding “no.” I thought I had my full of the nostalgia-drenched, new wave tinged dance-rock that the band helped to popularize in the late 2000’s. Yes, Murphy is still pilfering riffs from late 70’s art-rock (the grinding guitars of “Change Yr Mind” take liberally from Brian Eno’s “No One Receiving”). Yes, the album still permeates with fat, warm sounding synths. And yes, Murphy still waxes philosophically over his growing alienation from the youth culture he once inhabited. However, for all the familiarity there is also a lot of change. The album is less dance-oriented than its predecessors, marked by slower paced songs and darker textures. There has never been so much atmosphere on an LCD Soundsystem record before. As a result the album projects a very serious mood that is all too appropriate for the matured lyrical focus of James Murphy.

As one would suspect from a title like American Dream, the album sees Murphy casting a critical eye towards the society around him. Online, commercial, and youth culture are thoroughly scrutinized, all the while Murphy tackles these subjects with humour, nuance, and refreshing self-awareness. Some topics broached include government surveillance (“Other Voices”), the escalating political and ideological rifts within America (“Call the Police”), and the false promises of individual identity offered by consumer culture (“Tonite”). While darker in scope than any of the band’s previous releases, the album’s bleakest moment is left for its closer: “Blank Screen,” a slow pulsing eulogy for Murphy’s deceased friend and musical idol David Bowie. More than just an acceptable return to the studio, American Dream acts as a revitalization for the group. It is a warts-and-all snapshot of what it means to live in America in 2017, and perhaps the band’s best and most mature record.

3. Ty Segall – Ty Segall

Ty Segall is the logical culmination of the artist’s past ten years of output. For 36 glorious minutes the garage-rocker rummages through the sounds of The Beatles, Stooges, and Syd Barrett to create a kaleidoscopic sonic experience.“Break a Guitar” is not so much a song but an anthem, celebrating the destructive and creative powers of rock. “Orange Colour Queen” is Segall’s most beautiful and emotive ballad to date. Then there is the 10 minute freak out “Warm Hands (Freedom Returned)”, the definitive moment of the rocker’s career - Ty sounds like he is exorcising the ghosts of Hendrix, Bolan, and Ashton throughout with his incendiary playing. In a year when rock music seems to be losing its presence in the van guard of modern popular music, Ty Segall is an electrifying reminder of the energy, passion, and rawness that makes this music so powerful.

4. King Krule – The Ooz

On The Ooz, Archy Marshall does the inexplicable: the artist doesn’t so much create an album, but a country of sound. In this new land the searing psychobilly of the Birthday Party sits comfortably beside icy Wu-Tang hip-hop, ambient soundscapes merge into indie-guitar freak outs, and the line between dissonance and melody is irrevocably blurred. This 70 minute downer-rock suite takes the best of what Marshall did in the past and magnifies it; Marshall has never sounded as melancholic as on “Slush Puppy,” as contemplative as on “Half Man Half Shark,” or as vicious as on “Dum Surfer.” An epic and immersive listen.

5. Slowdive – Slowdive

Slowdive could have been a simple cash-in, banking on 90’s indie nostalgia for the band’s signature guitar based dream-pop. Instead, it turned out to be one of the most powerful statements of the group’s career. Familiar shoegaze guitars and hazy vocals are paired with more innovative arrangements, vaster atmospheres, and an increased focus on volume. While most bands tend to soften with age, Slowdive have never sounded as explorative or self-assured as on “Roving Star” and “Slomo.” These intense numbers are aided by the album’s production, which relies on live-recording rather than the processed textures of their earlier work. The result is Slowdive’s rawest record to date, an album that pays homage to the band’s legacy while simultaneously striving for innovation.

Show 703 (Best of 2017 Part Two):

1. James O-L & The Villains - Back Then (Wild Goose Jack EP - Famous Last Records - 2017)
2. Diane Motel - Get Through To You (Lonesome For The Colour - 2017)
3. Ariel Pink - Bubblegum Dreams (Dedicated Bobby Jameson - Mexican Summer - 2017)
4. Tough Age - Everyday Life (Shame - Mint Records - 2017)
5. Cellos - Demagogue (The Great Leap Backward - Harbour House - 2017)
6. Tobin Sprout - Future Boy/Man of Tomorrow (The Universe and Me - Burger Records - 2017)
7. Sprinters - Young As Me (Sprinters - Icecapades - 2017)
8. Thee Rum Coves - Behind Your Smile (Out Tonight EP - Aeroplane - 2017)
9. Chain & The Gang - Rome Wasn't Burned In A Day (Experimental Music - Radical Elite Records - 2017)
10. Alvvays - Hey (Antisocialities - Polyvinyl Record Co. - 2017)
11. Kevin Morby - 1234 (City Music - Dead Oceans - 2017)
12. Slowdive - Star Roving (Slowdive - Dead Oceans - 2017)
13. King Khan - Winter Weather (Murderburgers - Khannibalism - 2017)
14. King Krule - Half Man Half Shark (The Ooz - True Panther Sounds - 2017)
15. Dion Lunadon - Com/Broke (Dion Lunadon - Agitated Records - 2017)
16. Ty Segall - Paper (Ty Segall - Drag City Records - 2017)
17. Ty Segall - Warm Hands (Freedom Returned) (Ty Segall - Drag City Records - 2017)
18. LCD Soundsystem - Emotional Haircut (American Dream - DFA Records/Columbia - 2017)
19. Chad VanGaalen - Old Heads (Light Information - Sub Pop - 2017
20. Mount Eerie - Ravens (A Crow Looked At Me - P.W. Elverum & Sun - 2017)
21. The Sadies - There Are No Words (Northern Passages - Yep Roc Records/Dine Alone Records - 2017)
22. The Sadies - It's Easy (Like Walking)(Northern Passages - Yep Roc Records/Dine Alone Records - 2017)

Download this episode here!

Show 702 (Best of 2017 Part One):

1. The National - Turtleneck (Sleep Well Beast - 4AD - 2017)
2. Tim Darcy - Tall Glass of Water (Saturday Night - Jagjaguwar - 2017)
3. Aron D'Alesio - Where You Going To (Aron D'Alesio - Paper Bag Records - 2017)
4. Paul The Tailor - Two Brains (Paul The Tailor - 2017)
5. Lucille Furs - Please, Give Her The Letter (Lucille Furs - 2017)
6. (Sandy) Alex G. - Judge (Rocket - Domino Recording Co. - 2017)
7. Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile - Fear Is Like A Forest (Lotta Sea Lice - Matador Records - 2017)
8. Daniel Romano - Roya (Modern Pressure - New West Records - 2017)
9. Deer Tick - Jumpstarting (Vol. 1/Vol. 2 - Partisan Records - 2017)
10. Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs - Judy (Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs - Burger Records/Dine Alone Records - 2017)
11. Guided By Voices - Keep Me Down (August By Cake - Guided By Voices Inc. - 2017)
12. Dusty Mush - I Ate your Dog (Cheap Entertainment - Stolen Body Records - 2017)
13. Wolf Parade - Valley Boy (Cry Cry Cry - Sub Pop - 2017)
14. Father John Misty - Total Entertainment Forever (Pure Comedy - Sub Pop - 2017)
15. Teenanger - Fun Forgot (Teenager - Telephone Explosion - 2017)
16. Protomartyr - Here Is The Thing (Relatives In Descent - Domino Records - 2017)
17. Black Lips - Crystal Night (Satan's Graffiti Or God's Art? - Vice Records - 2017)
18. Black Lips - Wayne (Satan's Graffiti Or God's Art? - Vice Records - 2017)
19. The Courtneys - Silver Velvet (II - Flying Nun Records - 2017)
20. The Courtneys - Country Song (II - Flying Nun Records - 2017)
21. The Courtneys - Minnesota (II - Flying Nun Records - 2017)
22. Perfume Genius - Slip Away (No Shape - Matador Records - 2017)
23. Protomartyr - A Private Understanding (Relatives In Descent - Domino Records - 2017)
24. Priests - Appropriate (Nothing Feels Natural - Sister Polygon Records - 2017)
25. OCS - The Chopping Block (Memory Of A Cut Off Head - Castle Face Records - 2017)
26. Oh Sees - Jettisoned (Orc - Castle Face Records - 2017)

Download this episode here!

No comments: