Saturday, December 15, 2018

2018 Highlights & Shows # 752, 753

For their favourite releases of 2018, Dave & Adam of Revolution Rock each picked ten albums that they liked that were put out in 2018 and some selections from other albums as well. They did two episodes devoted to music that was released in 2018 and you can download these episodes under the playlists below. Each of their top 10 lists are included in this post, followed by a little write-up of each of their top five albums from 2018.

Dave’s Top 10 Albums of 2018:

1. Parquet Courts - Wide Awake!
2. Nap Eyes - I’m Bad Now
3. Volunteers - I Wish I Was As Happy As John Denver
4. La Luz - Floating Features
5. Paul Jacobs - EASY
6. Preoccupations - New Material
7. Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel
8. Rolling Blackouts C.F. - Hope Downs
9. Ty Segall & White Fence - Joy
10. Mudhoney - Digital Garbage

Adam’s Top 10 Albums of 2018:

1. U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited
2. Mount Eerie – Only Now
3. Low – Double Negative
4. Daughters – You Won't Get What You Want
5. Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy
6. Idles – Joy as an Act of Resistance
7. Father John Misty – God's Favorite Customer
8. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!
9. Mitski – Be the Cowboy
10. Rolling Blackouts C.F. - Hope Downs

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

Dave's Top Five:

1. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!

Released through Rough Trade Records, Wide Awake! finds guitarist/vocalist Andrew Savage, Austin Brown (guitar/vocals), Sean Yeaton (bass) and drummer Max Savage reconvening for what many have been calling their strongest album to date. “Total Football” opens Wide Awake! Starting with a marching drum beat and ringing guitar and bass, it quickly picks up pace as the basslines run in between the guitar parts, drums and vocals in a graceful, yet energetic way. Lyrically, the song is based on the theory of “total football” that states any player on the field can play any role or position. Parquet Courts take this theory and apply it to a modern context. With lyrics such as “We are troubled by your soft curiosity/But delighted to be anti-everything you were taught” and “Collectivism and autonomy/Are not mutually exclusive” the song deals broadly with the duality of collectivism, individuality and clichéd American masculinity. This first song, as has been said in interviews serves as a sort of manifesto for the album, which tackles the current political climate among other things, with humour, wit and a new sense of anger.

Produced by Danger Mouse, Wide Awake! shows Parquet Courts amplifying their characteristics, with a punk and funky aesthetic. The album is charged with an intensity and anger that is the opposite of 2016’s Human Performance. While it does address cultural and social contexts, it also comments on our current political climate. These points, however, aren’t forced down the listener’s throats. Like all of the band’s albums, lyrically there are many themes and ideas that can be drawn upon and looked at, not just the obvious. By looking inward and outward, Parquet Courts question everything and nothing at the same time. There is no fat left on this record, it flows seamlessly from track to track, however, Wide Awake! leaves the listener plenty to chew.

2. Nap Eyes – I’m Bad Now

Nap Eyes formed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2011. Fronted by vocalist/guitarist Nigel Chapman, Brad Loughead (lead guitar), Josh Salter (bass) and Seamus Dalton (drums), Nap Eyes musical style has drawn comparisons to bands such as The Velvet Underground, The Clean, The Go-Betweens, and Television, among others. Their style sometimes called “slacker rock” is different. It does have similarities to the above-mentioned bands, but at the same time it doesn’t. The music also lends itself to the indie rock world and also to other genres. Lyrically, the words operate on a different level being introspective, deadpan and sarcastic at times. I’m Bad Now, is the third full-length album release by this band. Released via You’ve Changed Records/Paradise of Bachelors, I’m Bad Now finds Chapman questioning relationships and life in general in philosophical, existential and cosmic contexts. While there are similar themes that pop up and appear between the three albums, I’m Bad Now stands up by itself. The meanings that can be drawn from the songs here can be abstract, or not. The listener is not presented with everything spelled out for them, which causes repeat listens to reveal little subtleties that may not have been noticed before. With all its cosmic layers, drawing on everything from existential to philosophical themes, I’m Bad Now seems to ask more questions than it answers. However, as we are told in “Boats Appear”, ”It takes time to understand things/And the more you know/The more you don’t know”.

3. Volunteers – I Wish I Was As Happy As John Denver

In the spring of 2018, Volunteers, a band based in Vancouver released a new album entitled, I Wish I Was As Happy As John Denver. This debut album appeared mysteriously, by a band consisting of Dave McMartin (guitar), John McMartin (drums), Fraser With (guitar) and Brad Felotick on bass/vocals. They have had their song “Who Needs A Girl Like You” featured as the theme song to the CraveTV series, Letterkenny. In addition to providing the title theme to the show, they also have other songs in the various episodes of the show, along with other Vancouver bands. The album was recorded by Andrew Wilkinson, who also plays in the band Dead Ghosts. It was recorded in a barn on the outskirts of Vancouver where the two bands share a rehearsal space. This location is also the same place where Dead Ghosts recorded their 2015 release, Love and Death and All The Rest. As a result, I Wish I Was As Happy As John Denver has a laid back feel, but also never loses its 60s garage/rock spirit. With a title inspired by an ad-lib from a live recording by Neil Young & Crazy Horse, I Wish I Was As Happy As John Denver, blends a country/garage musicianship with lyrics that are strong with rich, folk-like imagery. The album is a bit mysterious, but is also a mature reflection on the past and present, while creating something new. The sound of Volunteers is organic, but pulls its roots from different musical backgrounds. I Wish I Was As Happy As John Denver is homegrown, but never sounds dated. It leaves a lasting imprint on the listener that is hard to shake.

4. La Luz – Floating Features

Since 2015’s Weirdo Shrine, La Luz has relocated to Los Angeles. The changing of their backdrop from Seattle to Los Angeles is embedded into their third full-length and latest album’s very core. Floating Features still levitates with the same surf noir dynamics that were first cast on 2013’s It’s Alive. Produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, Floating Features adds a new shine to La Luz’s already established sound without being too obvious. The mood on Floating Features simmers as this all female quartet draws on the theme of dreams and its many variations. “Don’t Leave Me On The Earth” is layered in metaphors and surf fuelled drums, guitar, bass and organ that swelter with fervor. With a title that sounds like something from a sci-fi film from decades long ago and words such as “Wild World/I Was high/I was all dead inside” and a chorus of “Juniper/Juniper/Don’t leave me on the earth” and “Take me with you when you go”, this song and the juniper plant reference could be representing the desire for a cleansing of old landscapes as a new dream breaks free from the confines of an old one. With Floating Features, La Luz creates a mood that is a bit hazy at times and sometimes abstract. Lyrically building on the theme of dreams and the different ways that they can be perceived, La Luz confronts whatever comes their way to readjust their sonic features and to create and strengthen their own musical landscape.

5. Paul Jacobs - EASY

EASY is the latest album released by Paul Jacobs. Put out through UK label Stolen Body Records in October 2018, EASY shows Jacobs drifting out within his own lo-fi garage aesthetic, adding atmosphere with synthesizers that at times sound like they are coming from an old VHS tape. EASY follows a series of releases from Jacobs. Earlier in 2018, an EP was released on cassette called Story About Anything and in 2016, there were two albums released, I’m Into What You’re Into and Pictures, Movies & Apartments. Stolen Body Records released Pictures, Movies & Apartments on vinyl in 2017. The music on EASY still retains the chaotic, lo-fi element that has been present in Jacobs’ music since the beginning, but there is something else found in this collection of songs. The melodies are stronger, almost haunting, as they make their way into the listeners subconscious. Lyrically, EASY tackles everyday life with a slacker realization that is at times humorous and poignant. EASY offers something new for listener’s that may be familiar with music Paul Jacobs has created in the past, but it also doesn’t stray too far from the spirit that has been present in his earlier recordings. With EASY, Paul Jacobs delivers an album that grows at its own pace.

Adam's Top Five:

1. U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited

Stuck within the quagmire of insidious misogyny that pervades this culture (look no further than the sexist demagogue elected into office), women in 2018 had to face the bombardment of media re-enforcing ideas of female bodies being nothing more than commodities to exploit. This is the world Meg Remy combated on In a Poem Unlimited, the sixth album from the Toronto multi-instrumentalist's project U.S. Girls. While Remy's previous albums never shied away from the existential complexities of womanhood, this record's set of political pop was her most barbed and incisive collection yet. “Velvet 4 Sale” depicts a dystopian future wherein women and children are conscripted to fight the wars of the rich elite, “Mad As Hell” criticized the American military presence in the Middle East, while “Rage of Plastics” tells the story of a woman becoming infertile due to working in a chemical refinery. As dire as these narratives are, Remy could not even find respite in the afterlife, saving her most scathing critique of institutionalized sexism for the space-disco of “Pearly Gates”: “But like some roadside vet with a bag in hand/I could do anything St. Peter asked/For one chance to be an angel in his eyes/It seemed to be the safe bet, so I closed my eyes/And I opened my gates wide/And St. Peter came inside.” AND YET, as dark as the themes of this record were, In a Poem Unlimited also radiated hope. This was not only due to the hypnagogic pop of her assembled band, whose arrangements brought to mind a range of influences such as Bowie, Talking Heads, Blondie, and ABBA. It was also due to the tireless bravery of Remy tackling these themes, her ambition to call out to prevalent misogyny and corruption of the world around her, and the reassurances that as long as people like her continue this battle, love and righteousness may prevail. This is U.S. Girls' most complex and sprawling record, while also being their most immediate and grooving. It is political pop, protest music, full of revolutionary anger, while also being joyous and life affirming.

2. Mount Eerie - Now Only

Last year, Phil Elverum released one of the most emotionally cataclysmic records I have ever heard. The eulogistic A Crow Looked At Me explored the aftermath of losing a loved one (the songwriter's wife Genevieve Castree), with what amounted to less a collection of songs than an exercise of visceral catharsis. Now Only sees Elverum returning again to his grief, but resulting in a much different album. While the arrangements of Crow were sparse, barely even songs, the six tracks of Now Only are flushed out and complex. Arrangements shift and sprawl. Pleading acoustic laments suddenly break into feedback-laden squalls. Time signatures shift. The album even offers a bit of respite in humour, as Elverum recounts playing his “death songs to a bunch of young people on drugs” at a music festival. This isn't to say this record is any less devastating than its predecessor, but it seems time has given Elverum perspective. Now Only is the sound of a man healing after a major tragedy, and while it might be a stretch to claim this record as being “hopeful,” a bit of light has begun to break through the sombre clouds of Mount Eerie's world.

3. Low – Double Negative

Here's an accolade for you: I've never heard a record that sounded like Double Negative before in my life. While the Minnesota trio could have rode out their band's career producing yet another collection of slowcore indie rock, they decided instead to dabble in auto-tune, synths, and digital distortion. The resulting record is not exactly a rock record, nor a folk record, nor a pop record. I'm at my wit's end trying to find the right category for it to fit in (if such a thing even exists). Double Negative is akin too a polished indie pop record downloaded onto a digital drive, which has been dunked in water, thrown down a flight of stairs, and bludgeoned with a hammer. While soft comparisons have been made to Radiohead's Kid A and Bon Iver's 22, A Million, it really stands out on its own. Each digital clip, each wave of distortion seems specifically planned, meticulously orchestrated. Its the album of a veteran band refusing to be pigeon-holed, crafting a Dadaist masterpiece that is as haunting as it is unconventional.

4. Daughters – You Won't Get What You Want

Visceral. That is the word to describe this Rhode Island band's fourth release. This album is a nosedive into incessant paranoia and madness, as if Suicide's “Frankie Teardrop” were given a noise-rock makeover by Jesus Lizard. Listening to this LP is intense and brutal, with the icy guitar blasts of “Satan in the Wait” and cacophonous sea-shanty of “The Flammable Man” sheer peaks in this musical downward spiral. Add on some truly poetic lyrics by Alexis Marshall (just look to the chilling narrative told in “Ocean Song”) and Daughters have created the best heavy rock record of recent years.

5. Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy (Face To Face)

A re-recording of Will Toledo's 2011 bedroom-rock project, this new version of Twin Fantasy is a vast improvement over its predecessor. Not only have the arrangements been fleshed out with a full band sound, but the previous record's propensity for navel-gazing has been removed in favour of greater confidence and Toledo's finely developed wry sense of humour. Of course, the subjects are just as personal and introspective as found on the previous version of this record, but the new arrangements provide much needed life into a record that otherwise was lost in the sea of laconic mope-rock permeating bandcamp. Twin Fantasy (Face To Face) is an emotional sprawling experience, and perhaps Toledo's most ambitious record to date.

Show 753 (Best of 2018 Part Two):

1. Double Winter - Oxen Eyes (Double Winter - Crystal Palace Records - 2018)
2. Flesh Rag - Just One Kiss (Inside Your Mind - Schizophrenic Records/Loose Lip Records - 2018)
3. Snake River - Let Us Be Something Seen (Tread On To The Unknown You - 2018)
4. Farewell Mourners - Always Eventually (Farewell Mourners EP - Must Be Nice Records - 2018)
5. Charles Bradley - Heart of Gold (Black Velvet - Daptone Records - 2018)
6. Fucked Up - Raise Your Voice Joyce (Dose Your Dreams - Merge Records - 2018)
7. U.S. Girls - Mad As Hell (In A Poem Unlimited - 4AD - 2018)
8. Rolling Blackouts C.F. - Bellarine (Hope Downs - Sub Pop - 2018)
9. Mudhoney - Next Mass Extinction (Digital Garbage - Sup Pop - 2018)
10. Mitski - Lonesome Love (Be The Cowboy - Dead Oceans - 2018)
11. Ty Segall & White Fence - Rock Flute/A Nod (Joy - Drag City Records - 2018)
12. Parquet Courts - Violence (Wake Up! - Rough Trade Records - 2018)
13. Rolling Blackouts C.F. - Talking Straight (Hope Downs - Sub Pop - 2018)
14. Father John Misty - Date Night (God's Favorite Customer - Sub Pop - 2018)
15. Courtney Barnett - Charity (Tell Me How You Really Feel - Mom + Pop Music - 2018)
16. Idles - Television (Joy As An Act of Resistance - Partisan Records - 2018)
17. Preoccupations - Espionage (New Material - Flemish Eye - 2018)
18. Car Seat Headrest - Sober To Death (Twin Fantasy (Face To Face) - Matador Records - 2018)
19. Paul Jacobs - Easy (Warm Weather) (Easy - Stolen Body Records - 2018)
20. Daughters - Guest House (You Won't Get What You Want - Ipecac Recordings - 2018)
21. La Luz - The Creature (Floating Features - Hardly Art - 2018)
22. Low - Poor Sucker (Double Negative - Sub Pop - 2018)
23. Volunteers - Don't Get Me Down (I Wish I Was As Happy As John Denver - Barn Records - 2018)
24. Mount Eerie - Tintin In Tibet (Now Only - P.W. Elverum & Sun - 2018)
25. Nap Eyes - Every Time The Feeling (I'm Bad Now - Paradise of Bachelors/You've Changed Records - 2018)
26. U.S. Girls - Velvet For Sale (In A Poem Unlimited - 4AD - 2018)
27. Parquet Courts - NYC Observation (Wide Awake! - Rough Trade Records - 2018)

Download This Episode Here!

Show 752 (Best of 2018 Part One):

1. Buzzcocks - Ever Fallen In Love (Love Bites - United Artists - 1978)
2. Buzzcocks - I Don't Mind (Another Music In A Different Kitchen - United Artists - 1977)
3. Buzzcocks - Love You More (Love Bites - United Artist - 1978)
4. Shoobies - Surfin' Surgeon (Nevermind The Hardcore, Here's Shoobies - 2018)
5. Baby Giant - High Tide (2 - 2018)
6. Urban Surf Kings - Slipstream (Astro Surf A-Go-Go - Surf Cookie Records - 2018)
7. Papa Ghostface - Every Angry Element (What We Lost In The Flood - Tosteestosta Music - 2018)
8. Papermaps - Iron Stove (Confessions: To Each Their Own Rapture - Sparks Music - 2018)
9. Peach Kelli Pop - Quiet (Gentle Leader - Mint Records/Bachelor Records - 2018)
10. Peach Kelli Pop - Crooked (Which Witch - Mint Records/Bachelor Records - 2018)
11. Outrageous Cherry - The Beginning of the End of the Night (Meet You In The Shadows - Burger Records - 2018)
12. Elvis Costello & The Imposters - Unwanted Number (Look Now - Concord Records - 2018)
13. School Damage - Isn't Easy (A To X - Chapter Music - 2018)
14. Archie & The Bunkers - Fire Walk With Me (Songs From The Lodge - Dirty Water Records - 2018)
15. The 427's - Bikini Thief (Stay Gold - Stingray Sounds - 2018)
16. Preoccupations - Solace (New Material - Flemish Eye - 2018)
17. Nap Eyes - Dull Me Line (I'm Bad Now - Paradise of Bachelors/You've Changed Records - 2018)
18. Courtney Barnett - Nameless, Faceless (Tell Me How You Really Feel - Mom + Pop Music - 2018)
19. Iceage - Catch It (Beyondless - Matador Records - 2018)
20. Jeff Rosenstock - Yr Throat (POST - Polyvinyl Record Co. - 2018)
21. Mark Sultan - Believe Me (Let Me Out - Dirty Water Records - 2018)
22. Bonny Doon - A Lotta Things (Longwave - Woodsist - 2018)
23. Mexican Knives - Social Diary (II - Jett Plastic Recordings - 2018)
24. Hot Snakes - Six Wave Hold Down (Jericho Sirens - Sub Pop - 2018)
25. Ty Segall - Main Pretender (Freedom's Goblin - Drag City Records - 2018)
26. Shame - Friction (Songs of Praise - Dead Oceans - 2018)
27. No Age - Cruise Control (Snares Like A Haircut - Drag City Records - 2018)
28. Jeff Tweedy - I Know What It's Like (Warm - dBpm Records - 2018)
29. Buzzcocks - Lipstick (Peel Session - October 23rd, 1978) (Love Bites (Deluxe Edition) - EMI Records - 2010)

Download This Episode Here!

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