Rants and Reviews. Mostly just BS and Affiliate Links.
December 31, 2018
Though this list is ranked, I mostly wanted to share music from this year people should check out. So I used my LastFM profile to count albums from this year that I played the most. There are a ton of EPs I liked that were buried by the way LastFM ranks album plays, as well as some newer records that haven't had a chance to stick into the rotation. The order here is only based on the number of times I listened to each of them.
Alex Reed - The Gothic (songs written 1995-96, age 15-16): Most adults would cringe at the idea of revealing their teenage angst to the world. Alex Reed embraced his adolescent self and re-recorded his teenage songs during the sessions for Seeming's last album. The album is an unapologetic love letter to 80's goth rock, especially Faith-era Cure. If you like Seeming or ThouShaltNot, you can hear their larval forms on The Gothic. It might be pared down to 10 out of the 180 songs he wrote over a year, but I'm not sure many songwriters would have so many great songs to pull out of their teenage journals.
Far Corner - Risk: Far Corner is classified as prog rock, but only because they play classical music on rock instruments. I don't object to prog music; but in this case, it's a limiting description. Sure there's lots of scale runs and extremely technical playing, but it's not soulless displays of virtuosity. This is closer to post-rock like Mono or Godspeed! You Black Emporer, but the songs are faster and the tone much less bleak. The band's self-description as chamber rock is pretty spot on. It's energetic and adventurous in ways that most rock music isn't. This is the band's first album since 2007, it was well worth the wait.
Lead Into Gold - The Sun Behind The Sun: If you're into Industrial, even casually, Paul Barker's reputation proceeds him. It's easy to classify this as a throwback to Mind-era Ministry, but that's lazy. There's more to this record than merely an exercise in nostalgia, don't go in expecting a retread of Revco or other Ministry side projects. It starts from a similar place but feels like something new and vital. Something like Sweet Caress would never have made it on any Luxo-Pan record. Same with the album's title track, a slow closer built on a hypnotic and beautiful bass line. I'm glad that Barker and Uncle Al are talking again, but I hope that it doesn't take two decades to get the next Lead Into Gold record.
Supercommuter - Trash World: Supercommuter has been one of my favorites since their first album. The mix of chiptunes and nerdcore rap is still a fun combination. Their latest record is a bit more subdued than their first two records, but that space allows for some more interesting song structures. Beefy's guest track is probably the standout, but I like this whole album.
Cocksure - Be Rich - Another former Ministry member, Chris Connelly returns with Cocksure's latest record. Though this band started out as a tribute to the classic RevCo records, Conelly and Jason Novak blew that away by their first full length. Be Rich finds them stretching out into new territories sonically. The songs are groovier and electronic, using Conelly's vocal range to create a variety of textures. It's a fun, humorous, and unique project. With three full-lengths and a couple of singles under their belt, I look forward to watching Cocksure grow as a project.
Ohgr - Tricks: Skinny Puppy may be one of the most sonically exciting bands in Industrial music, but they've never been what you'd call accessible. Ohgr has always had a more rock and traditional song structure. Tricks takes that one step further and adds a healthy dose of pop to the mix. There are hooks aplenty, ensuring that this one stays in the rotation for quite some time.
David Bowie - Glastonbury 2000: It's Bowie doing a joyful greatest hits set. He and the crowd are all having fun. It's fun to remember there was a time where I'm Afraid Of Americans was his big encore closer. Bonus for the physical version, the liner notes are Bowie's diaries as he is rehearsing for the set. If this is a sign of how well the posthumous catalog is going to be managed, his legacy is in good hands. It's a moment of joy in the career of a monumental artist, you can almost hear his ear to ear grin when talking to the crowd.
Caustic - American Carrion: While this has been a year where we got two Caustic records, American Carrion opened the year with a shotgun blast of aggression. The album begins with Purgative, a list of things Matt Fanale would like to fuck off. There are some other highlight reels in anger, Fuck That Fascist Beat and Heads Down, Fingers Up. Fanale fits in some nice moments of his mellower electronic work as well. American Carrion is immediate, accessible, and direct. Even if electronic music isn't your thing, the aggression should sell the more guitar inclined to at least give this a listen.
David Byrne - American Utopia: We are buried in records right now where older artists try to make their "political" statements to varying success. Byrne, as usual, sees more value in going against the expected. Based on an ongoing project of the same name, Byrne is looking for reasons not to be cynical, and American Utopia delivers that sentiment. On first listen, it is easy to roll your eyes at choruses like "Everyday is a Miracle." But it's earnest, and Byrne still has his wry wit. He's just not going to let the shitty state of the world keep him from making art.
Ashbury Heights - Victorian Wallflowers: Oh how I love this band. I was late to the party, I didn't even hear Take Cair Paramour until We Have A Technical did a commentary track. That record shot the band to the top of my most played list, dominated by that album. Victorian Wallflowers is the second album with Tea Thimé, and her partnership with Anders Hagström is yielding a record that is just as good if not better than Take Cair. Anders has an excellent ear for hooks, and you'll find yourself bobbing your head with almost every song. He and Tea both get standout moments, their harmony really shines on Tomorrow Is Dead To Me. Science has a twinge of Oingo Boingo, though they never had great lines like "I live in a society where sorrow makes you weak. So every day I fake a smile and lie between my teeth."
Rants and Reviews. Mostly just BS and Affiliate Links.