Conscious Uncrumpling (Or, The Tracks of My Tiers)

Here’s what’s on my 2014 best albums playlist. The order is musically motivated, and it doesn’t reflect any sort of ranking.

So, Conscious Uncrumpling:

  1. Johnny Marr “Playland”
  2. Camper Van Beethoven “Dockweiler Beach”
  3. The New Pornographers “War on the East Coast”
  4. Tom Vek “Sherman (Animals in the Jungle)”
  5. Popstrangers “Country Kills”
  6. The Caribbean “The Chemistry Sisters”
  7. Morrissey “Istanbul”
  8. The New Mendicants “Cruel Annette”
  9. Ex Hex “You Fell Apart”
  10. Body Futures “When You Had a Jaw”
  11. The Both “Bedtime Stories”
  12. Neil Finn “In My Blood”
  13. The GOASTT “Animals”
  14. Owen Pallett “The Passions”
  15. Beck “Turn Away”
  16. Joe Henry “Every Sorrow”
  17. Peter Matthew Bauer “Latin American Ficciones”
  18. Outrageous Cherry “The Department of Ghosts”
  19. The Black Watch “Anne of Leaves”
  20. Split Single “Fragmented World”
  21. St. Vincent “Birth in Reverse”
  22. TV on the Radio “Happy Idiot”
  23. Interpol “Ancient Ways”
  24. Temples “The Guesser”
  25. Cymbals Eat Guitars “Warning”
  26. Spoon “Rainy Taxi”
  27. Three Minute Tease “Coffee That Makes the Man Go Mad”
  28. Angel Olsen “Hi-Five”
  29. Army Navy “Birdy”
  30. Eno – Hyde “Who Rings the Bell”

(The earlier post today details way more than you need to know about which records I liked in 2014.)

So have a listen.

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It’s the end of the year as I mix it (and I feel fine)

I’ve given up pretending that my limited sample size can say anything about whether a given year was a “good year” for music or otherwise. I am completely persuaded that every year is a good year unless you have extremely narrow taste, or if you simply happen not to hear the things that are probably out there which you’d like. There’s so much music out there, it’s difficult to imagine passing judgment on an entire year based on what you happen to have heard. I say this because, once again, I had a difficult time narrowing things down: some records were clearly outstanding, and some were clearly kinda meh…but a whole lot were in the top-middling area contending for second- or third-tier status.


Here are the very best of the year’s releases, in alphabetical order:

  • The Both The Both
  • Camper Van Beethoven El Camino Real
  • The Caribbean Moon Sickness
  • Ex Hex Rips
  • The GOASTT (Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger) (whatever they’re gonna call themselves) Midnight Sun
  • Johnny Marr Playland
  • The New Pornographers Brill Bruisers
  • Popstrangers Fortuna
  • Spoon They Want My Soul

Two of these bands are arguably the very best around in their genre: Spoon is probably the best rock band out there, and the New Pornographers the best pop band around. Both bands’ 2014 releases were slightly better than their prior (still very good) releases, too.

Next tier:

  • Peter Matthew Bauer Liberation!
  • Beck Morning Phase
  • Neil Finn Dizzy Heights
  • Interpol El Pintor
  • Morrissey World Peace Is None of Your Business
  • Owen Pallett In Conflict
  • St. Vincent St. Vincent
  • Temples Sun Structures
  • TV on the Radio Seeds
  • Scott Walker & Sunn O))) Soused

Several notable “comeback” releases here, from Beck, Interpol, Morrissey, and TV on the Radio…coming back either from absence or weaker recordings.

Still really quite good:

  • Army Navy The Wilderness Inside
  • The Black Watch Sugarplum Fairy, Sugarplum Fairy
  • Body Futures Brand New Silhouettes
  • Cymbals Eat Guitars Lose
  • Joe Henry Invisible Hour
  • The New Mendicants Into the Lime
  • Angel Olsen Burn Your Fire for No Witness
  • Outrageous Cherry Digital Age
  • Split Single Fragmented World
  • Three Minute Tease Bite the Hand
  • Tom Vek Luck

And still very good: The Autumn Defense Fifth, Peter Buck I Am Back to Blow Your Mind Once Again, Eno – Hyde Someday World and High Life, Field Report Marigolden, Doug Gillard Parade On, Guided by Voices Cool Planet, Sondre Lerche Please, Thurston Moore The Best Day, The Paul & John Inner Sunset, Peggy Sue Choir of Echoes, Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters Lullaby and…the Ceaseless Roar, The Raveonettes Pe’ahi, School of Language Old Fears, Devon Williams Gilding the Lily, Wussy Attica.

And very good but with some reservations: Anton Barbeau Distortion Schlager, The Mike Benign Compulsion Here’s How It Works, Hospitality Trouble, Jon Langford & Skull Orchard Here Be Monsters, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks Wig Out at Jagbags, Medicine Home Everywhere, Bob Mould Beauty & Ruin, Pixies Indie Cindy, The Proper Ornaments Wooden Head, Teach Me Equals Knives in the Hope Chest, Sharon Van Etten Are We There.

Several good tracks but falling a bit short: Blonde Redhead Barragán, Emperor X The Orlando Sentinel, Literature Chorus, Maximo Park Too Much Information, Nømads Free My Animal, Real Estate Atlas, Sloan Commonwealth, Statuesque All Your Requiem Requirements, The Fassbinders Earthworm, Unicycle Loves You The Dead Age.

Several good tracks but either a handful of lame tracks or just decent without having many thrills…: Robyn Hitchcock The Man Upstairs, Laetitia Sadier Something Shines, Dean Wareham Dean Wareham, Wye Oak Shriek, Thom Yorke Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes. (I dunno…I’m not quite persuaded by the synth-heavy sound of that Wye Oak record…) And: S. Carey Range of Light, Cibo Matto Hotel Valentine, Dum Dum Girls Too True, Guided by Voices Motivational Jumpsuit, Graham Lewis All Over, Liars Mess, Merchandise After the End, Nothing Guilty of Everything, The Baseball Project 3rd (anyone else think this one really should have been called I Don’t Know?), Tweedy Sukierae.

A handful of good to excellent EPs: Anton Barbeau vs. The Corner Laughers A Battle to the Birth, Jon Langford & Skull Orchard Mars EP, School of Language More Fears, Self Super Fake Nice, Speedy Ortiz Real Hair, Vinyl Williams Trance Zen Dental Spa, The Zags Small Bags.

There were a number of records that I acquired too late in the year to really form an opinion of: Andrew Bird Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of…, The Flaming Lips et al. With a Little Help from My Fwends, Parquet Courts Content Nausea and Sunbathing Animals, Philip Selway Weatherhouse (although I can say this is more interesting than his first release), Paul Smith & Peter Brewis Frozen by Sight, Zammuto Anchor (also better than his first one).

Next…the actual playlist of selections from the top titles…

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The Knuckle of the Business: 2014 covers mix 2

People doing things with other people’s songs. (As always, these are best listened to in order and with zero gap between tracks.)

  1. The Mommyheads “Moisture” (Residents cover): Who knew the Residents had a New Orleans sort of thing going on?
  2. Low “I’m on Fire” (Bruce Springsteen cover)
  3. Dawn Landes “More Than This” (Roxy Music cover)
  4. JEFF the Brotherhood “Come in Alone” (My Bloody Valentine cover)
  5. Tombs “‘Heroes'” (David Bowie cover)
  6. Sugar “Dum Dum Boys” (Iggy Pop cover)
  7. Beck “Wah-Wah” (George Harrison cover)
  8. Tony Rivers and the Castaways “Girl Don’t Tell Me” (Beach Boys cover): You’re probably thinking, yep, sounds like a Beach Boys song. But if you don’t know the original, you wouldn’t know that the Beach Boys’ version sounds like a Beatles cover…
  9. Preoccupied Pipers “Smothered in Hugs” (Guided by Voices cover)
  10. Telekinesis “Strange Powers” (Magnetic Fields cover)
  11. Tashaki Miyaki “The Beautiful Ones” (Prince cover)
  12. +4dB “Rook” (XTC cover)
  13. Robyn Hitchcock “The Ghost in You” (Psychedelic Furs cover)
  14. Lydia Loveless “The Killing Moon” (Echo & the Bunnymen cover)
  15. Elvis Costello “Beginning to See the Light” (Velvet Underground cover)
  16. 16 Horsepower “Bad Moon Risin'” (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)
  17. Go Home Productions (Mark Vidler) “My Paperback Sharona” (Beatles/The Knack mashup/cover)
  18. Robin Zander & Rick Nielsen “Jet” (Paul McCartney & Wings cover)
  19. Wilco “Any Major Dude Will Tell You” (Steely Dan cover)
  20. Ryan Adams “Wharf Rat” (Grateful Dead cover)
  21. Amy Anelle & the Shishi Valley Boys “Friends” (Led Zeppelin cover)
  22. Peter Gabriel “Listening Wind” (Talking Heads cover)
  23. Big Daddy “Once in a Lifetime” (Talking Heads cover)
  24. My Darling Clementine “It’s All Too Much” (Beatles cover)
  25. Temples “Waterloo Sunset” (Kinks cover)

The knucklebone’s linked to the fingerbone…

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Winter Songpile 2014: The Azimuth Error of Revolution

Right…’ere it is again. A little number we call…25 stray tracks that have come my way during the winter of 2014 that aren’t on albums I own (yet). Or otherwise fit in with entirely arbitrary rules of my own making. The list:

  1. Nude Beach “I Can’t Keep the Tears from Falling”
  2. Talk in Tongues “Still Don’t Seem to Care”
  3. Jorge Elbrose “Called to Ring”
  4. Panda Bear “Mr. Noah”
  5. St. Vincent “Sparrow” [b-side]
  6. Sabina “Toujours”
  7. Nots “Reactor”
  8. Drums “Magic Mountain”
  9. Stephen Doster “Arizona”
  10. N. Lannon “Dreamers”
  11. Cleopatra Degher “California Forest Fire”
  12. Steve Gunn “Milly’s Garden”
  13. You Am I “Mr. Milk”
  14. Eyelids “Forget About Tomorrow”
  15. Needle Points “Black Hurricane”
  16. Invisible Familiars “Heavenly All”
  17. Sam Cohen “Kepler 62″
  18. Valise “Don’t Forget Me”
  19. Johnny Marr “The It-Switch” [b-side]
  20. Happy Diving “Weird Dream”
  21. Sugar Candy Mountain “Soak Up the City”
  22. Sporting Life “Tsunami”
  23. David Bowie “Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)”
  24. John Cale “If You Were Still Around (2014)”
  25. Dan Bern “Talkin’ Woody, Bob, Bruce & Dan Blues”

1 2 link to

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My Guardian Anger (Fall Songpile)

It’s that thing again with the songs that I heard that I liked.

  1. The Fresh & Onlys “Take Back the Night”
  2. Airport 5 “In the Brain”
  3. Eno – Hyde “Beebop Hurry”
  4. Clean George IV “Change”
  5. Niagara “Currybox”
  6. They Might Be Giants “Pictures of Pandas Painting”
  7. Viet Cong “Static Wall”
  8. Devon Williams “Puzzle”
  9. Together Pangea “Offer”
  10. Free Time “Esoteric Tizz”
  11. Invisible Familiars “Digger’s Invitation”
  12. Apache Dropout “Trash Is Treasure”
  13. Celestial Shore “Creation Myth”
  14. A Shoreline Dream “The Heart Never Recovered”
  15. Voice Coils “In Sixths”
  16. Hungry Cloud Darkening “Clearly Seen”
  17. Grauzone “Eisbaer”
  18. Membranes “Wounded Bull in Victorian England”
  19. The Rumors “Without Her”
  20. Radical Dads “In the Water”
  21. Zammuto “Great Equator”
  22. Stolen Jars “Folded Out”
  23. Andrew St. James “Tapes”
  24. Roomrunner “Chrono Trigger”
  25. Tennis System “Memories & Broken Dreams”

Curiously, there are 5 consecutive tracks whose titles feature doubled letters…and if I’d swapped TMBG and Niagara, it could have been 6. (Add in Eno – Hyde, Hungry Cloud Darkening, Membranes, and Roomrunner…and 40% of the song titles feature doubled letters.)

As always, these “songpile” mixes feature stray tracks: songs that aren’t on albums I own (unless I decide to include one anyway). Some of them are new, some of them are old (the oldest one here is from 1965).

So, here it is: My Guardian Anger (Fall 2014 Songpile).


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Summer Songpile

The One Where He Puts Together a Playlist of Tracks That Have Come His Way Over the Past Three Months That Are Not on Albums He Owns (Yet).

This one’s called Intrusive Algorithms (I should have kept track of where I ran into the odd phrases that I’m using for this year’s mix titles…sometimes, they’re searchable, though…).

  1. Yellow Ostrich “Shades”
  2. Tom Vek “Sherman (Animals in the Jungle)”
  3. Beezewax “Everyone Will Tear You Down”
  4. The Proper Ornaments “Magazine”
  5. White Fence “Like That”
  6. Connections “Jeni and Johnny”
  7. Matt Kivel “Insignificance”
  8. Kissaway Trail “Sarah Jevo”
  9. Invisible Familiars “Clever Devil”
  10. Nova Social “Turn to Crime”
  11. Amen Dunes “Lonely Richard”
  12. Betty Black “Come Back Lover”
  13. Peter Matthew Bauer “Latin American Ficciones”
  14. 31ø8 “Ease Up”
  15. Muscle Beach “Let’s Get Dumb”
  16. Ex Hex “Everywhere”
  17. Lower “Soft Option”
  18. Camper Van Beethoven “City of Industry” (okay…technically, this is a bonus track on an album I do own…but hey: I make the rules)
  19. Lungfish “The Words”
  20. Bart Davenport “Fuck Fame”
  21. The Corner Laughers “Midsommar”
  22. Chad & Jeremy “Sunstroke”
  23. Jacco Gardner “A House on the Moon”
  24. Overlake “Our Sky”
  25. Melted Toys “Observations”

(link above)

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’round yon version

It’s my first cover mix of 2014, featuring covers I ran into during the first half of the year. This one is called Craunch the Marmoset — and it goes like this:

  1. The Like “You Belong to Me” (Elvis Costello & the Attractions cover)
  2. Morrissey “Satellite of Love” (Lou Reed cover)
  3. Patti Smith “Within You Without You” (Beatles cover)
  4. Rufus Wainwright “Wonderful/Song for Children” (Beach Boys cover)
  5. Joe Louis Walker “Sweet Thing” (Van Morrison cover)
  6. Paul Weller “Riverman” (Nick Drake cover)
  7. Dave Rawlings Machine (with John Paul Jones) “Going to California” (Led Zeppelin cover)
  8. The Colourfield “Hammond Song” (Roches cover)
  9. Lana Del Rey “Chelsea Hotel No. 2″ (Leonard Cohen cover)
  10. Doug Gillard “Dripping with Looks” (Game Theory cover)
  11. Spoon “Decora” (Yo La Tengo cover)
  12. Built to Spill “Jokerman” (Bob Dylan cover)
  13. Elvis Costello (with Jakob Dylan) “Straight to Hell” (The Clash cover)
  14. Daniel Rossen with the Gene Clark No Other Band “No Other” (Gene Clark cover: from a whole concert featuring different singers and this band doing every track from Clark’s No Other album…definitely worth seeking out)
  15. Those Darlins “Jolene” (Dolly Parton cover)
  16. Uncle Tupelo “I Wanna Be Your Dog” (Iggy & the Stooges cover)
  17. Buck Owens “Catch the Wind” (Donovan cover)
  18. The Eels “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” (Prince cover)
  19. Andrew Bird “The Fake Headlines” (The New Pornographers cover)
  20. Papas Fritas “Flash Lightning” (Tom Verlaine cover)
  21. Catherine “Come Back Jonee” (Devo cover)
  22. Ragamuffin “Fresh as a Daisy” (Emitt Rhodes cover)
  23. Todd Terje (with Bryan Ferry) “Johnny & Mary” (Robert Palmer cover)
  24. Three Minute Tease “Cry Baby Cry” (Beatles cover)
  25. Kevin Supremo “The Devil Went Down to Kevin” (Charlie Daniels Band cover…devolved)

Here ya go.

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