Monday, February 05, 2018

Rockin' My Turntable In 2017.

Photo by Travis Wiens
Yup, it’s February, but with the demise of Chicagoist I felt no need to rush this list. And then I felt no need to really expound on each choice. So I was left with the simple quandary of what do I write?

Below are the albums that got me through 1917, arguably the worst fucking year of my 45-year existence. I mean, truly a terrible year. And I think that’s reflected in the music I clung to. Even a cursory glance establishes that I returned to my comfort food roots. Most young indie bands grew up on the indie bands I listened to in college and young adulthood. Only these new bands also grew up on hip-hop and pop so while much of the music I liked when I was younger certainly had hooks, they weren’t often as sugar filled as the approach these new kids take.

There’s also a marked absence of hip-hop and pop, which is unusual for me. But both those genres are running ever faster for the word of streaming ingles and Soundcloud, and avoiding albums, so if you think about it their absence isn’t so strange.

Also, there’s the usual caveat: these are the albums I liked the most and I’m making no artistic judgement on “the most important” or “the actual best for all listeners.” Also, I literally shuffled them in an iTunes playlist to determine their order, because order doesn’t matter. These were all just really fucking good. And they made a difficult year a trifle better every time I listened to them.

These are literally the notes from the spreadsheet I keep throughout the year, so welcome to an inside look at how I initially write stuff

Dude York - Sincerely
Dude York—the Seattle trio of bassist/singer Claire England, guitarist/singer Peter Richards and drummer Andrew Hall—write RAWK songs. Big guitars, big choruses, big feelings, big cymbal crashes; there is nothing subtle about this band. And I love it. Now more than ever is when we need music like this. Joyful, loud, timeless, and reminding us that sometimes a band's job is to make a euphoric noice that connects us to the moment and makes us forget about the world around us, if even for only three minutes.

Foxygen - Hang
Full on orchestra on this album. Lush and lovely. A complete departure from their trainwreck of a last album. VERY swinging sixties groovy.

Cayetana - New Kind Of Normal
Power pop at maximum volume. Trio that tours with bigger punk bands but has more a '90s alt-rock indie guitar vibe.

Snowball II - Flashes Of Quincy
Whoa, major Teenage Fanclub and Nada Surf vibes! Noisy and apparently mostly a 1-man band in the studio. So impressive layers of guitars and harmonies going on here. Sounds like sunshine.

Charli XCX - Pop 2
Icy pop that still remains fun. Packed with guest vocalists. Even if she won't release "albums" any more, these mixtapes are great.

New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions
The new album delivers on the promise of a band you can depend on to deliver the hooks, but it surprises by packing the album with no missteps and plenty of surprises. Because of this the band feels reinvigorated. After seven albums, even a supergroup can fall prey to falling into a rut, and while much of their recent output was strong it still felt a little overly premeditated. On Whiteout Conditions the band comes across as if they’ve awoken from a comfortable slumber with the intention of mining those corners of their talents that drove their earliest and most honest artistic explorations. In other words, The New Pornographers got their groove back.

Woods - Love is Love
Recorded November - January 2017. Six new songs in 32 minutes. A reaction to the election, but instead of anger the band is exploring love. A beautiful little document. The lyrics are pretty potent and really reflect the uncertainty but do so i n a way that tries to uncover hope where there seems to be only despair.

Dan Auerbach - Waiting On A Song
'60s and '70s vibes as Auerbach mixes Southern Cali vibes with Motwon swing.

San Cisco - The Water
Fizzy  and jaunty rock pop from Australia. SUPER young. And this is WAY more assured and polished than it should be, while still exuding a bouncy and authentic glow of youth.

Broken Social Scene - Hug Of Thunder
Fine return! Excellent album. Still lots of smeary walls of noise but there's also a new crispness to the songqriting. It's like they tarted drinking coffee while still smoking enough pot to keep 'em lose. Not sure who all is in the lineup, no liner notes or credits came with the album.

The Foo Fighters - Concrete And Gold
Perfectly serviceable. Has bits and pieces of the last two albums so it doesn't feel like a complete success though. Needs a few more listens from me... UPDATE: It's a grower. Now I really kinda like it!

Charlotte Gainsbourg - Rest
Electro based French pop that's super sexy and catchy. One of my faves from this month.

The Bombpops - Fear Of Missing Out
If Josie and the Pussycats had a sister band with a few tattoes it would sound like this.

Charly Bliss - Guppy
Heavy guitar indie pop with great female vocals and tremendous hooks. Scuzzy around the edges soundwise to keep things feeling sharp and not slick. Love this.

White Reaper - The World's Best American Band
Stomin' swaggerin' punky take on '70s rawk. Excellent. Lives up to its title, just about.

Gorillaz - Humanz
A party for the apocalypse.

Partner - In Search Of Lost Time
EXCELLENT! Super crunchy power pop a la Weezer from Canada, female duo, so so so so good.

LCD Soundsystem - American Dream
Darker and more intense than their other stuff. It's fucking intense. But don't worry you can still dance to it while you shiver and cry.

The National - Sleep Well Beast
Berninger is the face of The National, and his mumbling baritone is an unmistakable part of the band’s personal power. But it appears that bringing his wife Besser into the mix has opened new vistas of vulnerability and sheer truth to the group’s work. It’s hard to pinpoint the power of her influence, but Berninger and the band have never sounded so appealingly vulnerable and honest as he does here.

Warbly Jets - Warbly Jets
Blur + Super Furry Animals + The Verve + Primal Scream = Warbly Jets. I REALLY LIKE THIS.

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