Archive | November, 2016

Top 50 Songs Of 2016: Part 3

November 30, 2016


I was going to stop at #31, but I figured that was silly.  So, the list continues on!  Enjoy.

Part 1 is HERE.
Part 2 is HERE.

PS – I got a ton of take down notices, so you’ll have to listen via Spotify.

30)  :Mystery Lights – Follow Me Home:  Daptone launched a rock imprint – WICK – in 2016, and this Mystery Lights single was its first release.  I dig how loud and sloppy it is.

29)  :Weaves – Coo Coo:  If you like things that are clever and quirky, then this song from Weaves will delight you.

28)  :Twin Peaks – Walk To The One You Love:  This might be my favorite Twin Peaks track.  It’s such a breezy slice of garage pop.

27)  :Frankie Cosmos – On The Lips:  I’m all about Greta Kline (aka Frankie Cosmos) and her rather sincere voice here.  Also, I appreciate that this song mentions David Blaine.

26)  :The Tallest Man On Earth – Time Of The Blue:  Kristian Matsson (aka The Tallest Man On Earth) cut this late one night while out on the road.  I think it’s one of his better songs.

25)  :Field Mouse – The Mirror:  Mostly 90s, sort of emo, entirely great.  That’s probably the best way to describe this one from Field Mouse.

24)  :The Hotelier – Piano Player:  The Hotelier offer up a lot of song here (roughly six swirling minutes worth), but thankfully it’s a great ride that’s totally worth the time and attention it requires.

23)  :Tancred – Control Me:  Here’s one of my favorite 90s-inspired tracks of 2016.  It’s just about perfect.  Good work, Tancred.

22)  :LIV – Wings of Love:  This is a fantastic Fleetwood Mac-like effort from LIV, a “supergroup” that features Lykke Li, Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt and Pontus Winnberg, Peter Bjorn & John’s Björn Yttling and producer Jeff Bhasker.

21)  :Priests – JJ:  Frontwoman Katie Alice Greer destroys in this Priests track.  That voice of hers is just so very rad.

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Top 50 Songs Of 2016: Part 2

November 29, 2016


Here are more songs I liked in 2016.  Enjoy.

Part 1 of this list is HERE.

PS – I got a ton of take down notices, so you’ll have to listen via Spotify.

40)  :The xx – On Hold:  I know this track from The xx is only a few weeks old, but I’ve been obsessed with it and I just had to include it on my year-list.  It’s intoxicating.

39)  :Charli XCX – Vroom Vroom:  Charli XCX cranked this out in conjunction with Sophie, and it’s just the most goddamn ridiculous thing.  Please be sure to listen to it as loud as possible.

38)  :Tobacco – Gods in Heat:  I’ve had this Tobacco song on repeat for months.  It’s fairly weird and oddly sexy (it is called Gods in Heat, after all), and I just love it.

37)  :Chaos Emeralds – Animal Kingdom:  I’m not sure why this song from Chaos Emeralds isn’t all over the radio.  Talk about accessible and catchy.

36)  :Thao And The Get Down Stay Down – Nobody Dies:  Here’s one from Thao that I revisited a lot this year.  It’s an attention-grabber.

35)  :Bleached – Keep on Keepin’ On:  This song from Bleached really makes me want to get up and move and because of this it’s what I’m going to hit play on if someone ever starts chasing me.

34)  :The Julie Ruin – I Decide:  If you ask me, this is the best track off of The Julie Ruin’s 2016 release, Hit Reset.  On another note, Kathleen Hanna’s voice is still rad.

33)  :Phantogram – Cruel World:  Phantogram went for (and achieved) bigger and better things in 2016, but this track sounds like the old them and it’s what stuck with me.  Go figure.

32)  :The Range – Florida:  The Range really nailed it here.  I advise that you slap on headphones before you hit play.

31)  :Sheer Mag – Can’t Stop Fighting:  I’m starting to feel like it’s no longer possible for me to do a year-end song list that doesn’t include Sheer Mag.  Here’s hoping they keep on killing it.

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Top 50 Songs Of 2016: Part 1

November 28, 2016


Hey there!  It’s time to start running down my favorite songs and albums (look for this list next week) of the year.  Below you’ll find Part 1 of my Top 50 Songs of 2016 list.  It (and every part that’s coming after today) consists of tracks that I found myself frequently revisiting throughout the year.  Simple!  Enjoy.

PS – One thing is a little different this year – I will not be including any Austin acts in this singles list.  I’m going to be doing a two-part year-ender via 101X Homegrown (my radio show) that will detail my favorite Austin tracks.  Look for Part 1 to air on 12/11, and then Part 2 on 12/18.

PPS – I got a ton of take down notices, so you’ll have to listen via Spotify.

50)  :Sia – Waving Goodbye (Produced by Diplo):  When I saw (and loved) The Neon Demon, I found myself really digging this anthemic number as it blasted over the credits.  Oddly enough, I didn’t even realize it was by Sia until I got home and looked it up.

49)  :Big Baby D.R.A.M. – Cute:  This is such a silly song by D.R.A.M., but it’s so damn catchy that I’ve been unable to escape it for most of 2016.  Just let it take you.

48)  :Polica – Lately:  If you ask me, this is the best song off of Polica’s latest album, United Crushers.  It’s hazy and sparse and the line “seems like we’re too comfortable in love” is a sharp one.

47)  :Father John Misty – Real Love Baby:  Whether you’ve ever fully boarded the Father John Misty hype train or not, it’s hard to deny just how charming this track is on all fronts.

46)  :Pity Sex – Bonhomie:  The boy/girl vocals in this Pity Sex track are so on point.  As is the 90s-lean it carries.  And well, everything else about it.

45)  :Screaming Females – Skeleton:  I sure do love me some Screaming Females.  This track was rightfully cut from 2015′s Rose Mountain, but I’m glad to have it now – it’s unhinged and great.

44)  :LVL UP – Hidden Driver:  You could criticize this LVL UP effort as being too Neutral Milk Hotel-esque, but that would be silly.  It’s just a great song.  Turn it up.

43)  :Forth Wanderers – Slop:  This one from Forth Wanderers has a meandering arrangement and lyrics loaded with obviously-youthful musings – “I love too much/Too hurt this bad” – but I dig it.

42)  :Frightened Rabbit – Death Dream:  I loved Frightened Rabbit, then I veered away, and now this song has brought me back to them.  That’s how stellar it is.

41)  :The Blow – Think About Me:  There’s an early-era Rilo Kiley vibe on display here that I’ve been caught up since I first heard this song.  Thanks for that, The Blow.

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Movie Breakdown: Rules Don’t Apply

November 23, 2016


Pre-Screening Stance:

I didn’t even know this movie existed until I got an invite to a press screening for it.  How does that happen with a film that’s written and directed by Warren Beatty?  Anyhow, it looks like it could be a quirky good time, so I’m heading into it with at least mild expectations.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Rules Don’t Apply is one of those movies that’s made up of pretty people and they’re all clearly having a really good time just doing whatever and you keep watching and noticing that nothing really seems to be happening but everyone is so damn cute, charming and quirky that you just shrug your shoulders and keep your eyes glued to the screen.  Set in 1950s Hollywood, the film is centered around Howard Hughes.  I’m not entirely sure why – my best guess is that Warren Beatty just really wanted to portray him.  Anyhow, alongside Hughes there’s a slew of famous faces and then two kids with chunky parts – Lily Collins (as the super pretty Maria) and Alden Ehrenreich (as the super handsome Frank).  The former is a young lady hired to be in Howard Hughes’ actress stable (it’s never made quite clear exactly what he does with these women) and the latter is hired to be a driver (this part is made clear – he drives).  Because Howard Hughes is crazy, both young adults are explicitly told not to fall in love with each other … so of course they do exactly that.  There never seems to be any real point to their relationship though, and mostly the film ends up being driven by a weird vortex of screwbally madness between Howard Hughes, Maria and Frank.  And that’s it.  There’s no real point or any discernible message provided by the time the credits hit the screen.  Again, it’s just pretty people having a good time in a period film.  If you aren’t concerned with a real plot or some sort of meaning to everything, then my advice is that you check it out, because it is oddly entertaining.  If you want structure or a point though, then be sure to skip this one.

One Last Thought:

I like Alden Ehrenreich.  He legit seems like a good kid and in the films I’ve seen him in, he’s been entertaining.  With that being said, I’m nowhere near convinced that he’s going to be a good Han Solo.  Good luck to him, though.

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Movie Breakdown: Allied

November 23, 2016


Pre-Screening Stance:

The early word on Allied has been slightly negative (at least in my feeds), but I’m still looking forward to it.  Mostly because Robert Zemeckis, Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard are a trio I’ll take any day of the week.

Post-Screening Ramble:

I really enjoyed Allied, but I can understand why it’s been registering as a miss for some.  The film moves pretty quick at first.  An operative named Max Vatan (a stoic Brad Pitt) arrives in North Africa, he immediately gets teamed up with a French Resistance fighter named Marianne Beausejour (an alluring Marion Cotillard), the two of them start going about working together to kill a Nazi official, and then bang, the action ends and the tone shifts.  I think this is where the film stops working for some.  That first act is brisk, kind of dangerous and the back and forth between Max and Marianne is palpable.  But then their mission ends and their relationship begins and director Robert Zemeckis really slows things down in order to let the viewer see just how deeply in love they are with each other.  Personally, I felt like this made the conclusion that much more suspenseful and touching, but if you dive in hoping for a thriller of a spy flick and instead get a love story (even if it contains a mystery that needs to be solved), I can see why you’d scoff and check out.

Allied may be a bit uneven, but I found it to be a nice love story with a solid twist.  See it.

One Last Thought:

There’s a part in Allied where that German fella with the glass boot in the basement scene in Inglorious Basterds shows up and tests Brad Pitt’s character to see if he is who he claims to be.  This made me wonder what it feels like to be typecast as a Nazi.  Like, does he tell people’s he’s “made it” in Hollywood?  Or no?

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Movie Breakdown: Moana (Noah)

November 23, 2016


Pre-Screening Stance:

At this point, with all the soft splits Disney’s animation division has endured, I’m a little confused as to who makes what and if those who are making it are the talented ones or the cheesy ones. But hey, The Rock is funny!

Post-Screening Stance:

Moana, directed by a handful of people, is a beautiful, at times psychedelic film shackled by the traditions of the Disney “princess movies.” The film follows Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), an aspiring chieftain whose wild thoughts about “going beyond the reef” are squelched time and time again by her overbearing father. But when the “darkness” comes, brought on by the demi-god Maui’s (Dwayne Johnson) stealing of super goddess/island Te Fiti’s heart, Moana must disobey her father’s strict rules and set out, like her people before her, to find Maui, return the stone, and fight a giant lava monster with nothing but a bobble-eyed chicken to protect her. It’s like if The Odyssey was told through the eyes of the Pacific-Islander’s pantheon of gods, monsters and realms. And when it hews close to the traditions of the Pacific-Island tribes, the film is, simply put, amazing. Moana, after discovering and convincing Maui (an unrepentant selfish trickster who’s only out for himself) to join her, journeys through the Pacific Ocean’s wonders, each stranger and more amazing than the last. They’re attacked by a group of coconut pirates with a ship that grows and shrinks through a series of pulleys. They enter the Realm of Monsters to steal an object of great importance from Tamatoa (Jemaine Clement) – a giant crab who’s back is adorned with the treasures he’s stolen for himself. These aspects, and the solid pairing of Johnson and Cravalho, speak of a new step forward for classic Disney animation. One that’s unchained from the typical romanticized worlds Disney has been inhabiting for, well, nearly ever. Yet, the film never finds its way entirely outside of the boundaries of Disney’s hindering tropes. There is, of course, songs and though there a couple memorable ones (Tamatoa’s Shiny is a standout and I found myself tearing up anytime Moana started singing How Far I’ll Go), a lot of them, including Dwayne Johnson’s tone-deaf You’re Welcome, fall particularly flat. The opening song, an ensemble sing-along, is the most egregious, a sort of homage to Bonjour from Beauty and The Beast, but this time featuring smiling Pacific-Islanders crooning about how great their lives are, and how happy they are to work as a team. It clearly isn’t intended this way, but the simplification of the Pacific-Islanders society borders on stereotype, regardless of how well researched that stereotype is. But lame songs are not the film’s downfall, instead it’s the need to strike out on a path already well-trod by traditional Disney films. This is, very much so, the story we’ve seen in all of the famous Disney productions – a character must endure the trials of an enormous test while finding out just who she really is. It’s a classic yarn, sure, but Moana sticks so closely to the blueprint, that the odder, more enjoyable elements at play, get smothered. It almost feels like two films, as if Disney wanted to show the beautiful intricacies of Pacific-Islander culture, but only if it was bordered with the generic Disney structure pre-acknowledged to work well with an audience. The animation is stunning (the water work itself deserves awards) and – once again – in the more “out-there” scenes, which push what we’ve come to accept as a Disney film (the 2-D hybrid work on Tamatoa’s face is amazing). But it’s Moana where the animation fails. She looks, aside from a slightly wider nose and a light brown skin tone, like a white girl, but not just any white girl, one with creepy doll eyes that seem to move separately from the rest of facial musculature. It’s a creepy effect that sets a well-written, strong female character, somewhere along the line of CG American Girl dolls. The film is enjoyable though, an easily digested bit of animation that will make you laugh and ooh and ahh at the wonders of its design. But it’s almost a tease, as if Disney is striving to make change in its most cherished sandbox, but unable to let fully go yet. Keep at it Disney, you’re moving in the right direction.

One Last Thought:

Remember The Little Mermaid and King Triton and how he was just a total dick that smashed all Ariel’s pretty things and everyone was like, “Damn girl, underwater kings ain’t to be fucked with.” It seems like that sort of switch-first parenting has been expelled from Disney’s writing, as Chief Tui (Temuera Morrison) is the authority figure you’ve come to expect, but without the fire and brimstone. He just wants his daughter to be safe. Welcome to 2016 everyone, nothing has changed at all.

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Movie Breakdown: Bleed For This (Noah)

November 18, 2016


Pre-Screening Stance:

I like boxing movies because as much as I enjoy the idea of the deadly and beautiful dance of two people hitting each other competitively, the real thing makes me squirm.

Post-Screening Ramble:

It’s hard to point a finger at why movies like Ben Younger’s Bleed For This don’t especially work. It’s a well cast – Miles Teller, Ciarin Hinds, Aaron Eckhart, etc. – well-filmed movie based on the slightly unbelievable story of Vinny “The Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza. Mr. Pazienza was a boxer in the 80s, whose career was fading before he jumped two weight classes (thanks to the help of former Tyson trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart). After winning a belt of some sort (for a competition based around two people hitting each other until one person falls down, boxing is mighty confusing), Pazienza ended up in a car accident with a broken neck and told that he wouldn’t box again. He refused to believe that and trained himself back into fighting shape. So, that’s the film, give or take. And, honestly, that’s a pretty robust, Oscar worthy story with a whole buttload of amazing actors fronting it. So why doesn’t it work? Part of it is, sadly, Teller, who puts on a good show but is miscast. Pazienza was a boxer in the fading twilight of his life, Teller looks like a Harvard freshmen who dropped English to hang out at the boxing gym. The performance itself is strong, but Teller’s looks downplay the experience the character needs. But at least Teller has a character, the rest of the assorted “team” with Pazienza are cardboard cut-outs – the drunken boxing coach, the overbearing dad, the religious mom, etc. – an though the actors do what they can to ensure that the characters live off the screen, they don’t have much to do except exist as sounding boards for Teller’s “sports quotes”, which there many. It’s a bigger problem than just Teller and the characters though, the film about a man with so much heart he wills himself to succeed has very little heart. Teller’s character, who clearly loves boxing, has nothing else in his life except for a parade of faceless women and his Rhode Island family, but there’s no real explanation of why. Sure, it’s the only thing he’s ever known, but again, why? Director Ben Younger never seeks to find out, instead making a well lit, paint-by-numbers boxing film with a brief detour into a story of recovery. It isn’t hard to digest as it looks great and again, the characters (especially Aaron Eckhart), are all well acted, it just doesn’t have much flavor.

One Last Thought:

Is it weird that the entire time I watched this film I thought, “Man, I bet these people voted for Trump.”

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Ty Segall

November 17, 2016


Just a heads up, this is my last “regular” music post (there will still be film reviews) of 2016.  The site will be on break next week, and then it will be year-end list time.  Woo!  Now, about today’s Ty Segall track – it’s super rad.  Here’s hoping the rest of his upcoming album is as chill as the new tune.  Enjoy.

:Ty Segall – Orange Color Queen:

The self titled album will be out January 27 via Drag City.

Bonus Video:

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Movie Breakdown: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

November 16, 2016


Pre-Screening Stance:

The magic is back!  While I’m slightly disappointed that this wasn’t all over the posters for the oddly named Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, I am excited to see it.  After all, every one of the 49 Harry Potter entries were on point, so there’s no reason to think that this spin-off won’t be, too.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Since no world building needs to be done for anything related to Harry Potter, David Yates’ Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them hits the ground running.  Newt Scamander (a quirky Eddie Redmayne) arrives in NYC and before he can even do anything touristy, he bumps into a few important people, a bit of magic happens and then bang, an adventure is underway.  Now, there are two storylines to be aware of here.  The first is Scamander and his gang’s quest to recover his lost creatures.  This makes up the majority of the film, and it’s an overwhelmingly charming and enchanting time.  All of the characters are lovable, the magic is fun and the creatures are wondrous.  You will adore every bit of it.  As for the other plot, it’s not particularly well executed.  This is where Percival Graves (a surprisingly one note Colin Farrell) comes into play.  Right from the start it’s obvious that he’s up to something, but his end-game isn’t ever fully explained and more often than not his scenes just feel jammed into the film.  He’s unnecessary (so much so in fact that he could be cut out and the overall story wouldn’t change) and the only real blemish on an otherwise great movie.  Can’t win them all, I suppose.

If you’ve ever enjoyed any part of any Harry Potter film, then go see Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.  You won’t be disappointed.

One Last Thought:

I like Eddie Redmayne, I really do, but I have to admit that he totally weirds me out.  This is largely because every part of him (face, voice, gait, etc.) seems to be composed of strange tics.  It’s super weird, man.  Just saying.

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November 15, 2016

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Lykke Li, Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt and Pontus Winnberg, Peter Bjorn & John’s Björn Yttling and producer Jeff Bhasker make up LIV.  I was hoping that their second single would come with word on when the world can expect their debut full length, but it didn’t.  Bummer.  On the bright side, the act’s new track is nearly six minutes of slow-burning prettiness.  So there’s that.  Enjoy.

:LIV – Dream Awake:

Bonus Video:

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Los Campesinos!

November 14, 2016


I haven’t thought about Los Campesinos! in so long that I totally forgot they’re a great band.  How silly of me.  Anyhow, here’s to the return of the Welsh act (their last album was 2013′s No Blues) and their anthemic ways.  Enjoy.

:Los Campesinos! – I Broke Up In Amarante:

Sick Scene is due our February 24 via Wichita.

Bonus Videos:

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Movie Breakdown: Christine (Noah)

November 11, 2016


Pre-Screening Stance:

I like Rebecca Hall. I like small stories about crazy events. I think I may like this movie.

Post-Screening Ramble:

The center of Antonio Campos’ film, Christine, is, of course, local Sarasota television news reporter Christine Chubbuck (Rebecca Hall). In 1974, Chubbuck, in a downward spiral of depression and paranoia, shot herself live on air, implying that she was sticking to the station’s policy of “if it bleeds, it leads.” Campos’ film is a deep character study of a woman losing control, a slow burn of a film that takes place over two weeks, as the audience watches Chubbuck go from eccentric brain, to the maddening circles of her mental illness. Campos never pushes too hard to show Chubbuck’s slide off the grid, instead he sets a beautiful, period-specific-1970s stage, populates the cast with strong character actors and then throws Rebecca Hall front and center. And she absolutely owns it. This movie rests on the shoulders of Hall and though at times in her career she’s been typecast into films that ask for an awkward but attractive character (Chubbuck also fits this role), here we see the true range of Hall’s ability. Her Chubbuck isn’t stereotypically crazy, but instead a combination of tics and twitches and subtle mental breakdowns that pull her further and further down a hellish road in a vehicle made of her own twisted logic. Yes, Chubbuck was standing on the border of sanity, but her coping mechanisms – a hard, brassy shell – made her just about charming. Hall manages to imbue the character with this smart, hard-edged strength, but the vulnerability at the heart of the character gives the audience a front row seat to watch the cracks in the armor appear. A scene with Chubbuck and her mother (J. Smith-Cameron) in which Chubbuck harangues her mother for finding a new boyfriend before breaking down is especially touching. Chubbuck, an intelligent woman cut off at the knees by mental illness, was very much two-sided in her interactions with her mother, and Hall is able to showcase this – the toughness and the distancing falling away to reveal the broken child at the heart of the character. It is a chilling and amazing performance, the equivalent of watching a train derail in slo-motion. And though Hall’s performance makes the film, Campos’ selection of recognizable but not scene-stealing co-stars gives Hall the foundation to push off of. Her scenes with Michael C. Hall’s George (an anchor) are both sweet and awkward, but also telling of the heart of the story – there is a connection in our manners of coping. George reaches out to Chubbuck with a bizarre form of group therapy, because he worries about her, and as the film progresses each character, in their own way, shows their concern for Chubbuck, but Chubbuck can’t open herself up, she’s already too deep. And in the aftermath of Chubbuck’s suicide, as the small world of a local news station spins out of control, we see the crew’s own methods of coping – ranting, shock, ice cream – come to the fore, as if Campos is showing that deep down in our dark parts, we’re all a little crazy, and we all, to varying degrees of success, find our own ways of coping. Christine Chubbuck could not, and Campos’ telling of her story is small, poignant and beautiful.

One Last Thought:

I can’t imagine what the small market of Sarasota, Florida was put through to see Christine Chubbuck shoot herself on air. Absolutely nuts.

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Raised Eyebrows: Top Albums Of 2016 So Far – Part 2 (Randy)

November 11, 2016

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2016 may be a bad year for many things but music is not one of them. It’s now confirmed (by me) that 2016 has been the best year for music this century! We haven’t even hit December yet and the amount of quality releases put out in 2016 is just GONZO. Back in August, I put together Part 1 of great 2016 releases and now here’s Part 2.

1. JH Guraj – Underrated Glances at the Edge of Town

This record is pure heat. These are guitar explorations to help you go way in or way out.

2. Shabaka and The Ancestors – Wisdom of Elders

The best spiritual jazz record so far this century.

3. Terry Allen – Lubbock (on everything)

A reissued TRUE classic from 1979 by Texan genius Terry Allen

4. Big Star – Complete Third

This record means the world to me. Some of what is revealed is truly terrible and some of it is what I’ve hoped to hear my whole adult life.

5. Hiss Golden Messenger – Heart Like A Levee

They did it. If this doesn’t put them on top, I do not know what will.

6. Jack Rose – Dr Ragtime & His Pals

This is THE entry point for the highly influential Philadelphian picker named Jack Rose. Three cheers for Three Lobed!

7. Fennesz & Jim O’Rourke – It’s Hard For Me To Say I’m Sorry

A truly moving ambient work by the best dudes.

8. Nathan Bowles – Whole & Cloven

A really personal record that takes the banjo into wholly new territories.

9. Mary Lattimore – At The Dam

A powerful record that requires some attention and multiple spins with continued payoff.

10. Nels Cline – Lovers

The artistry and attention to guitar tone and sound is totally sick on this record.

11. Jerry Garcia – Garcialive Volume 7

‘76 Jerry is the best Jerry.

12. Scientists – A Place Called Bad

Bout damned time this band got their due. Highly influential and killer slop rock.

13. Cavern of Anti-Matter – I’m The Unknown (Single/EP)

Tim Gane is on fire and bringing more kraut-inspired heat!

14. Indoor Voices – Auratic (EP)

The best Nu Gaze release this year BY FAR! Their LP that also came out this year does not touch the deep magic they hit on this EP. A must for those who love on Loveless.

15. Ultimate Painting – Dusk

A slightly darker record compared to Green Lanes. These dudes haven’t disappointed yet have they?

16. Phil Cook – Old Hwy D (EP)

This EP of instrumentals from HGM sideman and ex-Megafaun member is just wonderful.

17. Kacy & Clayton – Strange Country

This Canadian duo channels brit-folk and appalachian influences effortlessly.

18. Roy Montgomery – RMHQ

4 Discs of guitar explorations from ex-Pin Group leader.

19. Califone – Roomsound (Deluxe Edition)

This record informed so much that would come after. The band in their heyday creating high level hypnagogia country music.

20. Health & Beauty – NO SCARE

Radically strange mix of emo and indie with some truly BURNT guitar workouts.

21. Koen Holtkamp – Voice Model

Holtkamp makes up half of Mountains and collabs with folks here and there but seems to save the further reaches of his art for his solo records. This one goes deep.

22. Vanishing Twin – Choose Your Own Adventure

Really fun record full of twists and turns in the throwback dream-pop department. (See; Broadcast, Death and Vanilla)


Worth it to hear Wells Fargo’s song Watch Out! alone.

24. Federico Durand – Jardin in invierno

This is Durand’s second release this year and he continues to slay.

25. Daniel Lanois – Goodbye To Language

Lanois returns to his beginnings in ambient.

26. Kate & Anna McGarrigle – Pronto Monto (Reissue)

This one flew under the radar. SO GLAD it’s back in print.

27. Daniel Bachman – Daniel Bachman

This one will be is gonna blow minds everywhere.

28. V/A – Imaginational Anthem Vol 8 – The Private Press

Tompkins Square digs deep and pulls out some true next level finds.

29. Game Theory – Lolita Nation

A 1986 classic is now back in print with a complete reissue.

30. Yussef Kamaal – Black Focus

Out of this world beat oriented jazz

31. Ulrika Spacek – The Album Paranoia

To the letter indie rock that will scratch an itch for anyone already into that kinda thing.

32. Flyying Colours – Mindfullness

Another GREAT Nu Gaze record out this year that leans more toward psych than most.

33.  Jon Keliehor – The Beginning of Time

Superb end-of-the-world ambient release

34. Botany – Deepak Verbera

This one is beautiful. Just Beautiful.

35. XAM Duo – XAM Duo

Ambient music is the best it may ever be right now. New heights are being reached. This one is killer.

36. The Early Years – II

10 years after their first album, we get II. It achieves what every Here We Go Magic release promised but never delivered on.

37. Wye Oak – Tween

This band came out of nowhere for me. This record sucks you in.

38. The Comet is Coming – Channel The Spirits

Shabaka Hutchings’ is quickly grabbing the torch being passed by Sun Ra and his Arkestra.

39. Imarhan – Imarhan

Desert rock that is as close to funky as Tuareg music’s ever gotten.

40. Philippe Edison – Bad Decisions

Houston’s own jazz/beat originator turns in an inspired LP that embraces Soul and RnB in unorthodox ways.


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The xx

November 10, 2016


The xx just released the first single off of their upcoming album.  It’s pretty great.  I advise that you put on headphones, turn up the volume and then use the track’s chill and totally wonderful sound to wash away (for at least a moment) all that stress and despair caused by the election.  Enjoy.

:The xx – On Hold:

I See You is due out January 13 via Young Turks.

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Movie Breakdown: Arrival

November 9, 2016


Pre-Screening Stance:

Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Incendies, Sicario) is a great director, so even if Arrival was a romantic comedy with Ashton Kutcher and Kate Hudson as the leads, I’d still be down to watch it.  With that being said, I am thankful his latest film isn’t that and is instead what looks to be a super neat slice of sci fi.

Post-Screening Ramble:

If you’re hoping that Arrival is going to deliver some type of Independence Day-like spectacle, then it isn’t for you.  If, however, you’re hoping that Arrival is more of an artsy Contact, then get ready to have a smile slapped onto your face!

The film begins with … well, an arrival.  Aliens suddenly appear in large ships – 12 of them be exact – across the globe, and every now and again they open a door that allows humans to enter for a chat.  Naturally though, there’s a large language barrier that needs to be hurdled, so an expert linguist by the name of Louise Banks (an emotionally raw Amy Adams) is brought in to try and help decipher why these beings have parked their big ships all over the planet.  She’s joined by a physicist, Ian Donnelly (a charming Jeremy Renner), and a military fella, Colonel Weber (a stern Forest Whitaker).  Together they discover all sorts of things, and then some neat stuff happens.  I won’t note what neat stuff happens, as that would just spoil the film for you, so instead I’ll switch gears and focus on director Denis Villeneuve, who turns in masterful work on all fronts in Arrival.  His film is an intense ride, but less so because there’s a group of aliens who may or may not want to destroy the world and more so because it’s emotional and heady.  Expect to walk out with all kinds of feelings and thoughts racing through you.  Lastly, Arrival is visually stunning, and there’s a big part of me that wants to see it again simply just to marvel at what Villeneuve crafted for the big screen.  That guy is seriously good at his job.

Go see Arrival because it’s fantastic.  Just be sure you know going in that it’s more of a sci fi drama than an action flick.

One Last Thought:

For a good while now I’ve simply just appreciated the talented Amy Adams, but she’s been hardcore killing it these last few years and it’s totally time for me to become her biggest fan.  I am ready.

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