Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Best Of 2019

This was hard. I broke it down to the simplest of terms:
Did it get played in the car? Did I grab the vinyl? Did it accompany me during any road trips? Did it stand out in a year that was NONSTOP good music? Many of my favorite artists released an album this year. Those were inevitably going to wind up in the list. Many albums showed up at the last minute. Much of these are new to me. A few of these are old friends.
This list is not, nor will ever be in any particular order of importance. It's just a list.
Let's not kid ourselves, though. You KNOW this was hard.

Here we go:

1. Sugarfoot - In The Clearing
 (THE most anticipated album of the year for me. Brilliant... just brilliant. I scream the name of Sugarfoot on the tops of mountains and bluffs, in hopes that all of the world will come to know them. Make no mistake, there is no band in the universe that comes close to this. I'm as die-hard as they come...

2. Saint Karloff - Interstellar Voodoo
(I most likely do not have to explain this album to anyone. It's fucking brilliant. A 40-minute track of stoner rock awesomeness. )

3. Micheala Anne - Desert Dove
(Hauntingly beautiful. Fine country from a well-established & seasoned artist, complete with a world class backing band, making original country that sticks around. This whole album has a really "Autumn/Winter" feel, similar to the "Nicks approach", with moments of sonic warmth and depth, unusual for the genre. You'll be lost in the reverb, but find your way home via the hooks. Really classy.)

4. Pernice Brothers - Spread The Feeling
(This album is an unbelievably adept celebration of power pop, 60s & 70s psych, jangly 80s pop, and Paisley Underground smatterings. Also my 1000th album in my collection on Bandcamp... this is a monumental occasion, and a little brag-worthy for all the above reasons. Splendid!)


5. Cloudkicker - Unending
(Man oh man... we've waited a long time for this one. Incidentally, Cloudkicker was the reason I joined Bandcamp in the first place, so I could buy the LPs and have them show up in my collection. All new post rock from the mind of Ben Sharp.. brilliant!)

6. Arctic Sleep - Kindred Spirits
(Melancholy and beautiful at the same time. Really epic, melodic doom with great hooks and a cold, oceanic vibe. Arctic Sleep delivers another genius album. I feel extra special about this because my name shows up first in the thanks list.. even though it was alphabetical, it's still cool as hell!)

7. Ian Blurton's Future Now - Signals Through The Flames
(Muscular heavy metal. Sharp hooks, gorgeous guitar solos, pummeling riffs. A little hairspray mixed with your Orange amps. Wound up really high on my list in 2019. A total gem in the rough.)

8. The Delines - The Imperial
(Such a fine collection of classy tunes. One of those last-minute discoveries for me. Cool band, great lyrics, smooth sound. Always has that "rainy-day-at-home-alone" feel to the tunes, giving the whole album a blissfully gloomy vibe that's hard to escape. An album full of "feels". I'm finding myself liking this band more and more as time goes by. Boone's lyrics are fantastic portraits of hard livin', poor choices, and empty dreams. I like to call this "24-Hour Laundromat Americana Blues. Becoming one of my favorite and most cherished bands.)

9. We Lost The Sea - Triumph & Disaster
(I'm doubting I will find many other albums I was looking more forward to than this one. Their previous album Departure Songs floored me in more ways than I can describe. That album is in among my favorite albums ever, and will go to the grave with me as such. It accompanied me while I was mowing prairies, cutting down huge trees, clearing paths, planning events, and general upkeep working in a National park. It was there when I married my wife, it was around when I was at my best, and my worst. It has survived the storms, worn bare and rejuvenated by the slightest shifting of the winds. Now this new stuff, Triumph & Disaster has been a good pal thus far, and I can only assume it will grow on me more in the coming year.)

10. Planet Of The 8s - Tourist Season
(Good gosh... the "Holy Ballsnuts!" meter hasn't gone off like this in a while. Awesome, truly. Melodic stoner rock with all the right moves and grooves. This album will, without a doubt, be sticking with me for quite some time. Just what I needed. These riffy jams are weep-worthy, in my book. Man tears, friends.. every next track is a total banger.)

11. Makeunder - Pale Cicada

(Easily some of the best experimental R&B this side of Saturn. Everything about this shines.)

12. Serial Hawk - Static Apnea
(I dig Serial Hawk. They always have this sound that makes the Earth tremble. Sometimes you need that. Another reviewer said it made them have to take a dump, and I could not agree with this assessment more. Psychedelified doom... This album is equally brutal and gentle. It's kind of a weird mix, right? It will pummel you with NO apologies, yet bandage you up with silken wraps and honey-scented tinctures...)

13. Reader - Engrams
(Mathy, nasty, noisy, melodic, twisted-up, tied-up, bound-up, spastic bombastic flakes of watery, crunchy sounds. I must say, this is likely one of the most compelling albums I've heard in a while. Lots of twists and turns, gravitational pulls, stark robotic landscapes filled with tributaries of shimmering metallic lines and jagged edges, but a bunch of birds and butterflies and bees all hang out in a paisley pasture, doting on purple blooms... Noisy melodic math rock..)

14. Hippo Campus - Demos I & II
(When your demos are light years better than your actual release, there might be something slightly "off" in the universe. Regardless of how much I dig these young cats, I have to say that with all of the great stuff they grow into, they really shine in a release like this. Raw cuts, different takes, new songs that SHOULD HAVE BEEN on the album to begin with... Pop music fans will rejoice in an album like this. It's a stunner. I include this here as ONE album because it was released as a 2xLP on Black Friday RSD. I waited in line for it. It was worth it.)

15. Til Willis - Dirtflowers
(Til Willis can do no wrong. This is a very impressive work. Like his past stuff, it oozes with brilliant Americana/Alt-rock/post punk broth. Dirtflowers has more of a "cooled-down snarl", whatever that means. I'm a longtime supporter of Til's music, so it's easy for me to love this album. A sense-tickling Westerbergian dystopia, laden with US Route 64 scenery.
Til's first full length pressed on wax came late-ish in the year, but still managed to sneak in there right in time. Still waiting for Til to get over to my neck of the woods for a show or two.  
A fine album for fans of all kinds of music... Snugly fits in the Best Of The Year List with no trouble at all.)

16. Last Crack - The Up Rising
(One of my favorite bands whilst a young lad. Right in there with my Jane's/FNM/Saigon Kicky freakouts that never really ended. Perfect addition to the definition of "alt-rock". Last Crack came in with this DOOZY of an album. A bunch of seasoned dudes get together and literally ROCK YOUR FACE OFF. Edgy, almost metallic, practically epic, well-honed rock tunes with the perfect "alt-y" sneer. If you loved Last Crack before, and you still love Last Crack now, this album will only keep that flame alive. Soldier on, cats... soldier on...)


17. Shana Cleveland - Night Of The Worm Moon
(I can't even begin to describe this. I won't even try. It's absolutely astounding. Everything about this screams that one moment where the stars look unnaturally close. Hymns to the veil of night sky, all sassy and otherworldly. Little pockets of spiraling galaxies, illuminated from behind by an open fridge with nothing but a can of coconut LaCroix inside.)

18. Crypt Trip - Haze County
(If I need to explain why this is on this list, or any list, it's beyond you. Crypt Trip gets better with each album. Their previous album killed me.. I was done for. I play it all the freaking time. It's one of the best albums ever. Haze County surpasses Rootstock and previous albums by LIGHT YEARS. Into the Best Of List, and staying there. Bands are going to have a hard time following this up for the remainder of the year... sorry, other bands. Crypt Trip's latest album Haze County is a blazing masterpiece. Bow before them.)

19. Mooner - O.M.
(Indonesia sure to please ya. Riffs like fire. Melodies like prisms. Jams like tsunamis. Mooner are this wonderfully heavy psych rock beast, rampaging through the jungle like a komodo dragon, ripping through prey with razor sharp teeth, and nullifying with toxic drool. A really killer find for me. So many good riffs, it's ridiculous.)

20. Lucy In Blue - In Flight
(Keyboard-Heavy, King Floydian Nektar Heep retro prog from the Land Of Fire & Ice. Pleasing to the ears. This latest addition to their series of opuses contains enough atmospheric '70s feelies to get you through your year. The Moon Dog and the March Hare knew they were here way before they were here. This is a stunner. )

21. Clouds Taste Satanic - Evil Eye & Second Sight
(YES! As a long-time fan, I don't have anything bad to say about this band. I will blindly buy their LPs without any hesitation. Second Sight comes to us as part 2 of this year's earlier release Evil Eye. As with any CTS release, there is sure to be some heavy doom riffing and darkness. Evil Eye and Second Sight have showed that they can doom as much as they can groove. With the addition of some more psych-y elements, some "jazzy" interludes, and some melodic moments, they have surpassed themselves. In such a short time between albums, they continue to grow, and I'm finding Second Sight to be their most refreshing [and almost relaxing] trip across the Mephistophelian cosmos yet. Doom on, gents... Doom on...)

22. Frank Hurricane & The Hurricanes Of Love - Life Is Spiritual
(A classy release. Backwaters, back roads, back woods, back doors, and backtalk. The joke is on you, America... laugh and cry, celebrate and pule. Swampy biographies, when all's said and done, makes for moments of enlightened astonishment. Americana/blues as told from a mud puddle in a truck stop parking lot.)

23. Lo-Pan - Subtle
(Seismic shifting does indeed happen when music is played loud enough. Nice hooks, great vocals, crafty tunes. Every Lo-Pan album is a humdinger.)

24. Florida Man - Tropical Depression
(All those ka-booms and ka-poweys you're likely to hear? That's the sound of my neighborhood when this album physically drops onto my player. Fine noise that happily takes a branch to your lip. Reminiscent of crusty Midwestern noise with touches of chrome-plated DC fury. It'll rip you a new facehole.)

25. Bright Curse - Time Of The Healer
(Bright Curse are one of my favorite bands. This new album shows much growth within the band and the songwriting. Again... one of my favorite bands, and they can do no wrong. Brilliant stuff.)

Honorable mentions:

Crow Ballard - Electric Paradox

Sandveiss - Saboteur

Flesh Of The Stars - Mercy

Dark Numbers - If It Was it Would Be So

Stonerror - Widow In Black

No Man's Valley - Outside The Dream

Etherial Riffian - Legends

Mike Patton & Jean-Claude Vannier - Corpse Flower

Camionero - Confianza en tí solo

A year of total musical madness.....

 - Andy B

Friday, December 27, 2019

Bandcamp Blitz - December 27th 2019

A few cattle prods later, and I'm awake now. Currently working on the Best Of The Year List. What a fucking crazy year....

The Blitz:

Bad Boat - Drown The Phoenix
(Get a few mean faces ready, because you're gonna need 'em. This will pummel your soft noodle into mushy mush.)

Til Willis & Erratic Cowboy - Dirtflowers
(Til Willis can do no wrong. This is a very impressive work. Like his past stuff, it oozes with brilliant Americana/Alt-rock/post punk broth. Dirtflowers has more of a "cooled-down snarl", whatever that means. I'm a longtime supporter of Til's music, so it's easy for me to love this album. A sense-tickling Westerbergian dystopia, laden with US Route 64 scenery.)

Hurt Valley - Glacial Pace
(Alt-folk/Alt-pop Americana, gleaning from the past in such a way that it's almost a distant memory told in strums and melodies. From California, and sounds like it. Really great album, and one of those hidden gems of 2019.)

Dredge - Ashbreathers
(Iowans making HUGE metallic prog noise. Straight from the "mean streets" of Dubuque, my buds Dredge rip a hole through reality to bring you this 5-track punch in the jaw. Heavy, mind-melting twists and turns, biting tones of electro-fuzz, and skull-fracturing howls. If you dig the first two Baroness albums a whole lot, you're gonna flip over this.)

Transylvania Stud - White Witch
(Fine stoner grunge. Comparing itself to Kyuss-meets-Soundgarden, this latest work is quite a few leaps forward for this one-man act. Nice vocal work, clever songwriting, overall good package. When the music outshines the imagery, you know you've got something special.)

Need Her Liver - Surf
(Alt-Stoner from Italy. Kinda grunge, kinda punk, kinda classic rock, smidgens of fuzz. A fine little EP of tunes with several musical nods, all coming together into a seething mass of heaviness. A bold maneuver meets a jubilant jaunt.)

The Tunnel - Shapeshifter
(The darkness hath returned. Genuine death rock. A purely gothic brew, smouldering and spewing green ichor around the room like a festering, open wound. Scents of blood and incense, paired with a fine electrified Cabernet. For fans of Bauhaus, Fields Of The Nephilim, and Jesus Lizard. Noisy, dark, wicked, and bona fide.)

Midnight Coven - Bewitched
(Shroomy spaced-out Sabbathy wackiness. A trip into galaxies unknown. Both spooky and unnervingly trance-like at the same time.)

- Andy