2 trends that will continue to hold music back in 2018

A.  The continued manufactured consent/publicist bullshit that has infested the music business for decades.  I’m still in shock looking at the Guardian best of 2017 and seeing the St. Vincent record at the #1 position.  I try to be an open minded gent so I thought I would peep it again and honestly I don’t get it.  Recycled sounds, a distinct lack of soul, and a manicured sound that drains the already drained proceedings.  Put this record up against Prince’s 1999 and then give me a call.  I don’t see anyone listening to this record in 5 years — isn’t that a simple definition of a great record?  There’s a huge difference between a great publicist/marketing campaign and a great record.

B.   People are mad lazy.  I don’t see how many supposed music lovers (including mindless music writers of which there are dozens) put a napkin in their collar and just lap up what is served to them.  Some music publicist calls you up, blows a little air up yer skirt and you just faun over the most mindless shit.  Or you read an article and you just nod your head like some sort of zombie.  It’s fucking shameful.  Is it not a reasonable definition of a sophisticated music listener to check music out independently of what is being pushed by record label pimps and to occasionally call bullshit on an awful record???  Is everybody so fucking spineless and afraid that they will never stick their necks out and dump on a mediocre effort?  Man, the National record this year almost collapses under the weight of its own pretension and I read the most breathless (dare I say orgasm-y) reviews of music that should be fed to senior citizens as the sonic equivalent of applesauce.  Blech!

I’m no hater and I love music and an essential part of loving music is sorting out the shit from the gold.  The amount of gold spray paint that has been applied to musical turds is not helping music out.  While people may get a good huff of spray paint buzz it stinks like shit when the paint dries and cracks to reveal what’s underneath.

I hope some folks in 2018 will show some self-respect/self-esteem and start thinking for themselves instead of sitting with their spoons out and their diapers on.  Jesus, it all goes down in public and it’s fucking shameful to watch.  I’m embarrassed on your behalf.

Happy 2018.

Fat track: Sudan Archives’ Oatmeal!

I was listening to this African influenced, chill r&b/lounge EP for inclusion on my list this year and this is the tune that I dug the most.

It’s an interesting blend of what sounds like African violin, hammered marimba type action, this electronic bass, and a trippy vocal part.

The solo/pre-outro section is a hot variation on what was established earlier in the track.

Best of 2017 Pick 10

American Lips: Kiss the Void (Ancient Fashion, 2017)

It’s not easy to make a mainstream rock record and have it sound fresh.  These guys do a good job of recreating an early ’80s half punk/No Wave kind of thing but with a pop sensibility and plenty of hooks.  Ya know, the Knack, early Elvis Costello, Urge Overkill, and the somewhat nutless yet praised out the ass The Strokes.  There are many places where it can go wrong — the singer can be a douche, the hooks can be more than familiar as in they bit it (as in somebody else’s music) too hard, the production can water down whatever muscle the band brings to the music.

But that doesn’t happen here.  The guitar player is pretty driving here for the style of music and the singer is straight ahead.  No Bon Jovi, no posing with his meat stick hanging out, all that shit.

This is 22 minutes of pop punk deliciousness so check it out!

This is for cubicle dwellers and bologna sandwich eaters out there.

Why is the Feral Ohms record not being championed by Vice? (#incompetent record mafia)

Check out the video below.  I thought the hipsters want to rock.  This is the kind of in your face, high attitude shit that Vice is supposed to stand for.

I guess they’re busier allowing all the sexual harassment in their offices and chasing the pennies the music publicists and their advertisers have for them.

This record should be huge in the hipster rock haunts!

Best of 2017 Pick 5

Feral Ohms: Feral Ohms (Silver Current, 2016)

A blistering and punishing garage punk blues album.  I’m not sure if this is extreme caffeine, Red Bull, meth or some other substance but these guys pop the top and just flip the fuck out for 27 minutes.  It’s really quite mad.  The tempos are full on, the volume is cranked, the playing is manic, it’s like watching Trump snort crank and pee on his wife!!!!

Full on guitar boogie, crunchy ass guitars, howling vocals with no cheese just propane!  Unlike some of the other records that I have been reviewing in the last few days this one does not sag or veer from its date with destiny.  They’re just trying to boil your brain so why not let ’em???


Best of 2017 Pick 10!!!

Les Filles De Illighadad: Eghass Malan (Sahel Sounds, 2017)

A certifiable alternative for Tinariwen fans and for fans of West African music in general.  The rhythm here is stripped way down to foot stomps and handclaps as a rule with multiple guitars and female vocalists.  The emphasis here is on a beautiful trance and less on whipping up some desert electric blues epic jam.  The atmosphere is pretty intimate with circular guitar playing that can really bliss you out if you let it.

I’ve been on a bit of a bender comparing music to movies and there is an observation here.  I was looking at the New Yorker’s best films of 2017 and there was a documentary about rats in Baltimore.  It’s a very small film but it does a highly effective job discussing rats, rat behavior, racial history in America, capitalism, and American subcultures all viewed through the lens of rats in Baltimore.

In the same way, this is a small record that does a lot with a small ensemble that remains true to their intentions.

Check it out!

2017 Honorable Mention Pick 9

Curtis Harding: Face Your Fear (Anti-, 2017)

Channeling Curtis Mayfield in a really satisfying opening tune, Wednesday Morning Atonement, the record than turns to a slightly lounge-y but a little hard edge soul music.

If you ask most hardcore music listeners would they say the world needs more Curtis Mayfield inspired soul orchestration — lush and complex against the drums, or does it need more stripped, simple organ/horn driven soul music?  I’m going with the former people, bring on the Curtis Mayfield inspiration!

About half of the tunes caught my ears, the drummer is great, Harding has a really strong voice, but for me it comes down the arrangements and the vibes.

Check out tracks 1, 2, 4, 7, and 10

2017 Honorable Mention Pick 8

Les Amazones d’Afrique: République Amazone (Real World, 2017)

Here is an example of what I blogged about yesterday regarding music in 2017.  An African female vocalist all star record — check!  12 songs on the record with 7 stunners, a stunner being an interesting, ear catching arrangement with great vocals over the top.

The other 5 tracks are solid, but not great.  More predictable in their structure and intention so it’s an uneven ride.  So you go from wow, I love that track, that’s such a great creative set of sounds to, yeah that’s all right and that sounds a bit standard.

If you can make 7 super hot tracks then why not 12?  Am I an asshole for asking that.  I’m a music fan for asking that that’s for sure.  So please make sure you check out the following tracks as they are full on:

1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, and 11.

And also remember that Get Out is fucking awesome all the way through!

There’s nothing like Get Out or Dunkirk in music in 2017!

I have been pretty sick over the past week and though I watch a lot of documentaries, indie film, animation and mainstream Hollywood ‘product’ the end of the year is a great time to watch movies.

I can’t really say enough good about the movie Get Out.  It is so intelligent and well directed and it operates on many, many levels.  In my opinion it is a masterpiece.  I have only watched the first 35 minutes of Dunkirk but it’s a pretty incredible piece of Hollywood movie making and I can’t stand war movies and I don’t like many Hollywood movies at all.

In what I find to be the continually rigged music business, nobody ever appears to compare the quality of movies to the quality of music.  As I’m a painfully honest music listener I’m more than willing to do that!

I’m looking at the top 10 records of 2017 at Pitchfork and it’s Kendrick Lamar (if not overrated, overexposed), and Vince Staples Big Fish Theory, (above average but not straight great across the board), and King Krule (very nice sonics but not much lyrical power).  When you expand it out to the top 50 the list looks tired.  I’m sorry but it does.

When I go to the Guardian which has been dripping out its list for the past few weeks I see Perfume Genius (great opening track, didn’t stay for the whole show), Wolf Alice at #12 (yikes, don’t even know what to say to that), and LCD Soundsystem at #6.  A lot of pouting guitar irony and a lot of half assed booty bumping.  Are any of these dance floor ‘monsters’ dropping anything remotely like Maggot Brain or One Nation Under a Groove?  Could the gent at LCD Soundsystem even be hired to wipe George Clinton’s funky ass?  I’m thinking not.

I heard a lot of really good stuff this year by acts known and lesser known but not as much boundary pushing and passion as I wanted to hear.

And if you think that’s a coincidence then you don’t know much about the music business.


Music for 12/11/17!!! J Hus, Wolf Alice

@@@ J Hus: Common Sense (Butter World, 2017)  An African MC in London combines African music and UK grime.  I like his accent but I must say I much prefer American hip hop beats.  This second track is funkier with a bouncy bass line.  I wish the arrangements were less synth heavy.  I got to this via the Guardian top 50 of the year and frankly these non-Americans should stay out of the rap game.  Maybe some Nigerian cats can match American hip hop funk but it’s a tough hill.

@@@ Wolf Alice: Visions of a Life (RCA, 2017)  Another UK outfit off the Guardian top 50 of the year and I tend to find the records that are lower on the list are better than the ones near the top where the music publicists are vying to get their big money records fellated as much as possible.  This is #12 on the list so publicists are looking for head for sure. If you’re up for some highly produced, strongly flavored of shoegaze indie with a female singer then you’re in luck!  I find the guitars here to be very satisfying but the production cuts down the whirlwind and the noise and the female singer pretties it up a bit.  They have a go at uptempo punk business on the second track Yuk Foo, and it’s all right but it could use some more mess.  It’s a tad too packaged a mess but that’s the point here.  Somewhat unfortunately.  It’s an all right record but music to me is about passion and the production constrains and packages the passion.  Smells like passion for those who don’t like a shitty mess.

YTD recordings listened to: 784
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 423
Not good music: 323

Buys: 9
Honorable Mentions: 7

Possibles: Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, The Chewers, Toxic Holocaust, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Leviathan, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Moken, Juan Atkins, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Magrudergrind, A Tribe Called Quest, Noname, Gouge Away, Anna Hogberg, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, J.I.D., Oddisee, Forro in the Dark, RAM, Fiver, Dona Onete, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity, American Lips, Sudan Archives, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Benjamin Booker, Irreversible Entanglements, Converge, Boubacare Traore, Les Filles De Illighadad, Curtis Harding, Les Amazones D’Afrique