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2018 Albums: ‘…And the Same Thing Goes for Christmas!’

So, in past years I’ve carefully gone over potential top-album selections, relistening to them, trying to figure which ones ranked in which tier, etc…. This year, I realized…you know, all such tierings end up changing three months later anyway, so if I haven’t listened to some record enough to really get a read on it, well, that’s just the way it is.

So I just went with my first impressions.

I made a playlist representing the top 30 such albums…and again, I made things easier on myself: when no one song leapt out at me as the best choice, I chose either the album’s opening track or its most-played track on Spotify.

Here’s the (unranked, ordered instead by musical flow) songpile for those 30 albums:

part one:

  1. Paul Smith “Hollywood Hills” Diagrams (0:00)
  2. The Dodos “Forum” Certainty Waves (3:43)
  3. Preoccupations “Espionage” New Material (7:10)
  4. Jorge Elbrecht feat. Tamaryn “Here Lies” Here Lies (11:34)
  5. The Joy Formidable “Y Bluen Eira” Aaaarth (15:48)
  6. Kristin Hersh “LAX” Possible Dust Clouds (18:50)
  7. The Black Watch “Dances for Sad Footsteps Slow” Witches! (22:34)
  8. Superchunk “What a Time to Be Alive” What a Time to Be Alive (30:26)
  9. Guided by Voices “Ark Technician” Space Gun (34:11)
  10. The Spires “Stereo Images” Obscured View (36:27)
  11. Amy Rigby “Playing Pittsburgh” The Old Guys (39:09)
  12. Richard Thompson “The Storm Won’t Come” 13 Rivers (42:44)
  13. Jonathan Wilson “Trafalgar Square” Rare Birds (48:44)
  14. Elvis Costello & the Imposters “Mr. & Mrs. Hush” Look Now (55:06)
  15. Courtney Barnett “Crippling Self Doubt and a General Lack of Self Confidence” Tell Me How You Really Feel (58:50)

part two:

  1. Thom Yorke “Suspirium” Suspiria: Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film (0:00)
  2. Mitski “Geyser” Be the Cowboy (3:19)
  3. Lucy Dacus “Night Shift” Historian (5:39)
  4. The Rock*a*Teens “Billy Really” Sixth House (12:08)
  5. Suuns “Watch You, Watch Me” Felt (17:01)
  6. Miss Rayon “Red Plum” Eclipse (22:54)
  7. Mike Viola “King Kong Hand” The American Egypt (28:21)
  8. Father John Misty “Hangout at the Gallows” God’s Favorite Customer (33:39)
  9. Dirty Projectors “That’s a Lifestyle” Lamp Lit Prose (38:34)
  10. Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks “Solid Silk” Sparkle Hard (42:56)
  11. Wye Oak “It Was Not Natural” The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs (47:29)
  12. Yo La Tengo “You Are Here” There’s a Riot Going On (51:29)
  13. Lake Ruth “VV” Birds of America (57:05)
  14. Speedy Ortiz “Lucky 88” Twerp Verse (1:01:20)
  15. Neko Case “Last Lion of Albion” Hell-On (1:04:27)

The next tier of albums (sorry no playlist…):

  • The Breeders All Nerve
  • Hop Along Bark Your Head Off, Dog
  • Gretchen’s Wheel Black Box Theory
  • Melody’s Echo Chamber Bon Voyage
  • Peter Holsapple Game Day
  • Gwenno Le Kov (probably the only record on this list sung entirely in Cornish…)
  • Caroline Says No Fool Like an Old Fool
  • Field Music Open Here
  • The Goon Sax We’re Not Talking

Another batch of still really good records (many of which might score higher if I redid this list in a month):

  • Franz Ferdinand Always Ascending
  • Menace Beach Black Rainbow Sound
  • Johnny Marr Call the Comet
  • The Moles Code Word
  • Crystales Crystales
  • Low Double Negative
  • Paul McCartney Egypt Station
  • Albert Hammond Jr. Francis Trouble
  • The Beths Future Me Hates Me
  • The Decemberists I’ll Be Your Girl
  • Interpol Marauder
  • Anton Barbeau Natural Causes
  • Necessary Animals Necessary Animals
  • Momus Pantaloon
  • Unknown Mortal Orchestra Sex & Food
  • The Chills Snow Bound
  • The Orange Peels Trespassing
  • Of Montreal White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood
  • Sam Phillips World on Sticks

Some fine EPs/singles (which I rank separately):

  • Andy Partridge Apples & Oranges
  • Boygenius Boygenius
  • Wussy Getting Better
  • New Boss No Breeze
  • The Black Watch Paper Boats
  • The Spires To Complicate Matters

Stuff that arrived too late for me to really have an opinion on:

Gold Connections Popular Fiction; They Might Be Giants My Murdered Remains; The Monkees Christmas Party; Cary Grace Covers Volume 1.

Even looking at the remaining 2018 titles I acquired, I see a few that might end up making a stronger impression…along with a few disappointments. There were also some fun reissues, compilations, live albums…the ongoing Residents reissues, the first three Wire albums, the Posies’ Geffen albums, and of course another in the ongoing series of David Bowie box sets…

 

 

 

 

 

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Answers Are a Prison for Oneself (covers mix 2, 2018)

Twenty-five of the more interesting covers that came my way during the second half of 2018. Some of them are new, some of them are elderly but had not yet introduced themselves to me until this year.

As usual, the links are to the giant, carefully segued songfiles, much preferred over Sporkifying it track by track…

Here, the listing o’ the tracks:

part one:

  1. Andy Partridge “Humanoid Boogie” (‘Apples & Oranges’ double single, 2018—Bonzo Dog Band cover) (0:00)
  2. Plainfield “I Feel Love” (demo, 2018—Donna Summer/Giorgio Moroder cover) (3:57)
  3. Joaquín Pardinilla “The Inner Light” (Homenaje 50 Aniversario: The Beatles, 2010—Beatles cover) (9:52)
  4. Morrissey “Back on the Chain Gang” (single, 2018—The Pretenders cover) (14:40)
  5. Love Spit Love “How Soon Is Now” (The Craft: Music from the Motion Picture, 1996—The Smiths cover) (18:29)
  6. Esperanza Spalding “If You Can See Me” (Spotify Singles, 2018—David Bowie cover) (22:50)
  7. Jonathan Wilson “La Isla Bonita” (Through the Wilderness: A Tribute to Madonna, 2007—Madonna cover) (25:34)
  8. Beth Orton, with the Chemical Brothers “I Never Asked to Be Your Mountain” (single, 2018: recorded late ’90s and unreleased—Tim Buckley cover) (30:09)
  9. Wussy “Ceremony” (single, 2018—New Order cover) (33:41)
  10. Fight Amp “Too Much Paranoias” (split single with Black Tusk, 2012—Devo cover) (37:55)
  11. The Meatmen “My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama” (Dr. Demento Covered in Punk, 2018—Frank Zappa cover) (39:45)
  12. The Mountain Goats “Bridge of Sighs” (Aquarium Drunkard Lagniappe Session, 2018—Robin Trower cover) (43:18)
  13. Father John Misty “Everything Is Free” (Spotify Singles, 2018—Gillian Welch cover) (47:04)

part two:

  1. They Might Be Giants “Starry Eyes” (‘Dial-a-Song’ series, 2015; reissued on My Murdered Remains, 2018—The Records cover) (0:00)
  2. Velvet Chain “Sour Times” (Warm, 1997—Portishead cover) (3:23)
  3. The Hot Rats “Bike” (Turn Ons, 2010—Pink Floyd cover) (6:02)
  4. Elvis Costello “Someone Else’s Heart” (single, 2018—Squeeze cover) (8:43)
  5. Nightmare and the Cat “Baby’s on Fire” (video for Keith magazine, filmed 2011—Brian Eno cover) (12:15)
  6. Superchunk “Total Eclipse” (‘Our Work Is Done’ single, 2018—Klaus Nomi cover) (17:08)
  7. Jorge Elbrecht “Almost” (single, 2017—Orchestral Manœuvres in the Dark cover) (20:06)
  8. Lena Hall “Exit Music (For a Film)” (Obsessed, 2018—Radiohead cover) (23:43)
  9. The Band Geeks with Tom Brislin “South Side of the Sky” (YouTube video, 2017—Yes cover) (27:54)
  10. Kiah Victoria and Postmodern Jukebox “Such Great Heights” (YouTube video, 2015—The Postal Service cover) (36:22)
  11. Slings & Arrows “The Model” (Marry the Disparate Parts, 2018—Kraftwerk cover) (40:18)
  12. Johnny Cash “No Expectations” (Gone Girl, 1978—The Rolling Stones cover) (43:40)

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Plant Ice, Harvest Wind (2018 Winter Songpile)

Once again it’s time for a collection of most-liked songs that have come my way in the last few months… This one’s called Plant Ice, Harvest Wind:

part one:

  1. The Caribbean “The Seventeenth Century” (single, 2018) (0:00)
  2. Brian Eno with Kevin Shields “The Weight of History” (single, 2018) (4:03)
  3. Rachel Eckroth “Strangest Dream” (When It Falls, 2018)(12:35)
  4. Courtney Barnett “Charity” (Spotify Singles, 2018) (19:16)
  5. Viv Albertine “Confessions of a MILF” (The Vermilion Border, 2012) (23:14)
  6. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever “Talking Straight” (Hope Downs, 2018) (28:43)
  7. Jess Ribeiro “Love Is the Score of Nothing” (single, 2018) (32:23)
  8. Crepes “As You Go” (In Cahoots, 2018) (36:05)
  9. Le SuperHomard “Dry Salt in Our Hair” (Maple Key, 2016) (40:05)
  10. Alex Lilly “Pornographic Mind” (2% Milk, 2018) (42:59)
  11. Royal Canoe “Peep This” (Waver, 2018) (46:30)
  12. Lost Cousins “Stay” (single, 2018) (50:45)
  13. Fawns of Love “Mournful Eyes” (single, 2019) (53:58)

part two:

  1. Dollshot “Swan Gone” (single, 2018) (0:00)
  2. Boygenius “Salt in the Wound” (Boygenius, 2018) (3:51)
  3. Swervedriver “Drone Lover” (single, 2018) (7:59)
  4. Tears for Fears “Call Me Mellow” (Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, 2004) (12:14)
  5. The Wheel Workers “Desire” (Post Truth, 2018) (15:48)
  6. Hen Ogledd “Problem Child” (single, 2018) (20:18)
  7. Illiterate Light “Growin’ Down” (single, 2018) (25:25)
  8. Karla Kane “Goodguy Sun” (single, 2018) (29:36)
  9. Ian Sweet “Question It” (Crush Crusher, 2018) (33:42)
  10. Magic Potion “Shock Proof” (Endless Graffiti, 2018) (37:39)
  11. The Wild Swans “English Electric Lightning” (The Coldest Winter for a Hundred Years, 2011) (40:46)
  12. Amy Rigby “Tom Petty Karaoke” (single, 2018) (46:37)

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Questions Are a Burden to Others: Jeff’s 2018 Covers Songpile 1

My favorite cover songs that came my way during the first half of 2018, as usual segued blah-blah-blah.

Part 1:

  1. Plasticsoul “Biff Bang Pow” (The Creation cover—Therapy 2017) (0:00)
  2. Leopold and His Fiction “If You Gotta Go, Go Now” (Bob Dylan cover—Darling Destroyer 2017) (2:48)
  3. Low Cut Connie “Controversy (Prince cover—Dirty Pictures (Part 1) 2017) (5:32)
  4. Scrawl “Public Image” (Public Image Ltd. cover—Nature Film 2008) (8:25)
  5. The Districts “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (Joy Division cover—single, 2018) (11:19)
  6. Puddles Pity Party “I Want You to Want Me” (Cheap Trick cover—single, 2017) (14:42)
  7. Spoon “I Can’t Give Everything Away” (David Bowie cover—House of Strombo session, 2018) (17:49)
  8. Floating Opera “Debaser” (Pixies cover—Pop Song on the Elevator Down 2017) (21:28)
  9. Field Music “River Man” (Nick Drake cover—Green Leaves: Nick Drake Covered (Mojo) 2018) (24:22)
  10. The War on Drugs “Accidentally Like a Martyr” (Warren Zevon cover—Spotify single, 2017) (28:34)
  11. The Moore Brothers “Inverness” (Scott Miller/The Loud Family cover—unreleased 2018) (32:44)
  12. Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore “Get Together” (Jesse Colin Young/The Youngbloods cover—Downey to Lubbock 2018) (36:34)
  13. Buffalo Tom “The Only Living Boy in New York” (Simon & Garfunkel cover—Quiet and Peace 2018) (40:26)

Part 2:

  1. Wussy “Aliens in Our Midst” (Twinkeyz cover—“Damnably” single, 2018) (0:00)
  2. Ty Segall “Every 1’s a Winner” (Hot Chocolate cover—Freedom’s Goblin 2017) (4:00)
  3. The Wigs “Mony, Mony” (Tommy James & the Shondells cover—File Under: Pop Vocal 1981) (8:18)
  4. The Everly Brothers “Mr. Soul” (Neil Young/Buffalo Springfield cover—Nice Guys 1969) (10:56)
  5. Jack Ellister “Dear Prudence” (Beatles cover—The White EP compilation 2013) (13:52)
  6. Adam Ostrar “Cindy Tells Me” (Brian Eno cover—Brawls in the Briar 2017) (16:57)
  7. The Land Below “Song 2” (Blur cover—These Are Not Mine 2018) (19:28)
  8. Laura Veirs “Mountains of the Moon” (Grateful Dead cover—The Lookout 2018) (22:16)
  9. Henry Jamison “If You Could Read My Mind” (Gordon Lightfoot cover—If You Could Read My Mind 2017) (26:27)
  10. Franz Ferdinand “Shut Up Kiss Me” (Angel Olsen cover—Sirius XM live, 2018) (29:42)
  11. Angelique Kidjo “Born Under Punches” (Talking Heads cover—single, 2018) (32:58)
  12. Lionel Wendling “It Just Might Be a One-Shot Deal” (Frank Zappa cover—Steel World 2016) (36:47)
  13. (41:10)

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Om Shooby-Dooby (Spring 2018 Songpile)

And, once more, a passel of lovingly assembled song thingums, in this case representing things that caught my eardrums as their vibrations passed by.

Part 1

  1. Margaret Chavez “Strange Buoys” 0:00
  2. Spygenius “Get Over Yourself” 2:07
  3. Zizi Raimondi “Folly Dolly” 6:38
  4. Beach Fossils “Be Nothing” 10:13
  5. Sean Morales “Video Life” 15:09
  6. Father John Misty “Mr. Tillman” 18:33
  7. Courtney Barnett “Nameless, Faceless” 21:34
  8. Deadbeat Beat “You Lift Me Up” 24:47
  9. Mt. Wilson Repeater “To Touch the Golden Sceptre” 28:25
  10. UUUU “Boots with Wings” 31:52
  11. Partner “Everybody Knows” 36:04
  12. Terminal Mind “Zombieland” 39:00
  13. RVG “IBM” 42:51

Part 2

  1. Pugwash “Easier Said Than Done” 0:00
  2. The Association “Everything That Touches You” 3:08
  3. Plasticsoul “New Town, Different Day” 6:25
  4. Fake Laugh “Kind of Girl” 10:46
  5. Bell’s Roar “You Call Me Cold” 14:24
  6. Rose Elinor Dougall “Stellular” 18:15
  7. Jorge Elbrecht “Flesh to Ash” 22:01
  8. Gospelbeach “In the Desert” 26:46
  9. Japanese Breakfast “Road Head” 31:23
  10. Amy Rigby “From: philiproth@gmail To: rzimmerman@aol.com” 34:38
  11. The Green Pajamas “January Girl” 39:01
  12. Marika Hickman “Boyfriend” 43:03

+ 47:02

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Belgian Whistles: 2017 Top Albums Songpile

And without further ado (see previous post…): this time, I just posted the opening track of each album…except when it was an abstract/introductory item…

Part 1:

  1. The New Pornographers “Play Money” Whiteout Conditions 0:00
  2. The Bye Bye Blackbirds “Earl Grey Kisses” Take Out the Poison 4:34
  3. Filthy Friends “Despierta” Invitation 8:19
  4. Game Theory “All You Need Is White” Supercalifragile 12:33
  5. Wire “Playing Harp for the Fishes” Silver/Lead 16:25
  6. St. Vincent “Hang on Me” Masseduction 20:08
  7. Grizzly Bear “Wasted Acres” Painted Ruins 22:53
  8. The National “Nobody Else Will Be There” Sleep Well Beast 25:39
  9. Sparks “Missionary Position” Hippopotamus 30:00
  10. The Magnetic Fields “’66: Wonder Where I’m From” 50 Song Memoir 34:16
  11. Caroline Says “Winter Is Cold” 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong 36:57
  12. The Clientele “The Neighbour” Music for the Age of Miracles  39:36
  13. Robyn Hitchcock “I Want to Tell You About What I Want” Robyn Hitchcock 44:42
  14. The Black Watch “Whence” The Gospel According to John 48:23
  15. The Dream Syndicate “Filter Me Through You” How Did I Find Myself Here? 53:22

Part 2:

  1. Cotton Mather “The Cotton Mather Pledge” Wild Kingdom 0:00
  2. Guided by Voices “The Birthday Democrats” How Do You Spell Heaven? 3:03
  3. Omni “Afterlife” Multi-Task 5:32
  4. Monks of Doom “The Brontë Pin pt. 1” The Brontë Pin 7:18
  5. Brief Candles “A Way Around” Retreater 11:59
  6. Ted Leo “Moon Out of Phase” The Hanged Man 16:06
  7. Great Ytene “Mono Aware” Locus 20:23
  8. New Boss “Intro/Third Sister” Third Sister 24:01
  9. Spoon “Hot Thoughts” Hot Thoughts 27:28
  10. Washington Hebrew “Ima Try” Washington Hebrew 31:16
  11. Destroyer “Sky’s Grey” ken 34:48
  12. Robert Plant “The May Queen” Carry Fire 38:48
  13. Mark Eitzel “The Last Ten Years” Hey Mr. Ferryman 42:58
  14. Novella “Does the Island Know” Change of State 47:09
  15. Thurston Moore “Exalted” Rock n Roll Consciousness 51:02

+ 62:56

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2017: What Is an ‘Ablum’?

So here’s what 2017 looked like to me, musically.

My very favorite albums (in alphabetical order) were the following:

  • The Black Watch The Gospel According to John
  • Brief Candles Retreater
  • Caroline Says 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong
  • The Clientele Music for the Age of Miracles
  • Cotton Mather Wild Kingdom
  • Destroyer Ken
  • Game Theory Supercalifragile
  • Great Ytene Locus
  • Robyn Hitchcock Robyn Hitchcock
  • New Boss Third Sister
  • Novella Change of State
  • Omni Multi-Task
  • Spoon Hot Thoughts

I was pleasantly surprised by the Game Theory album…since it was an album salvaged from demos, fragments, and stray ideas, a work-in-progress when songwriter Scott Miller ended his life back in 2013. He’d intended this to be a collaborative project, and so it was: with the archival assistance of his widow, Kristine, and musical direction from Ken Stringfellow, a long list of musical collaborators pulled together an album that, miraculously, sounds quite distinctively like a Game Theory record.

My second tier of favorites for 2017 (there’s actually very little difference between these first two tiers):

  • The Bye Bye Blackbirds Take Out the Poison
  • The Dream Syndicate How Did I Find Myself Here?
  • Filthy Friends Invitation (Peter Buck, Corin Tucker, Scott McCaughey and Kurt Bloch, Bill Rieflin…)
  • Guided by Voices How Do You Spell Heaven? 
  • Ted Leo The Hanged Man
  • Thurston Moore Rock n Roll Consciousness
  • The New Pornographers Whiteout Conditions
  • Robert Plant Carry Fire
  • St. Vincent Masseduction
  • Sparks Hippopotamus
  • Wire Silver/Lead

And just a little below…:

  • Mark Eitzel Hey Mr. Ferryman
  • Grizzly Bear Painted Ruins
  • The Magnetic Fields 50 Song Memoir
  • Monks of Doom The Brontë Pin
  • The National Sleep Well Beast
  • Washington Hebrew (Michael Kentoff from The Caribbean) Washington Hebrew

My end-of-year best-albums songpile, Belgian Whistles, is drawn from the above (see next post for details and links).

The next levels are still really fine records:

Algiers The Underside of Power, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile Lotta Sea Lice, Beck Colors, Benjamin Booker Witness, Dirty Projectors Dirty Projectors, Dutch Uncles Big Balloon,, Fleet Foxes Crack-Up, Guided by Voices August by Cake, Holy Hum All My Bodies, LCD Soundsystem American Dream, Queens of the Stone Age Villains, Lee Ranaldo Electric Trim, The Sadies Northern Passages, Slowdive Slowdive.

Dale Cooper Quartet & the Dictaphones Astrild Astrild, Brian Eno Reflection, The Fall New Facts Emerge, Father John Misty Pure Comedy, Nick Hakim Green Twins, Dhani Harrison In///Parallel, Liars TFCF, Lo Tom Lo Tom, Aimee Mann Mental Illness, Laura Marling Semper Femina, Eric Matthews Too Much World, Momus Pillycock, The Mountain Goats Goths, Sampha Process.

And, honorable mention to: Anton Barbeau Antronica 2, The Mike Benign Compulsion Kid, Big Thief Capacity, Cherry Glazerr Apocalipstick, Crystal Fairy Crystal Fairy, Karla Kane King’s Daughters Home for Incurables, Los Campesinos! Sick Scenes, Maximo Park Risk to Exist, Pixx The Age of Anxiety, The Proper Ornaments Foxhole, Real Estate In Mind, Ride Weather Diaries, Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble Find Me Finding You, Statuesque Accusative, Matthew Sweet Tomorrow Forever, Paul Weller A Kind Revolution.

The best EPs of the year: Anton Barbeau Heaven Is In Your Mind, Cotton Mather Young Life, Cate Le Bon Rock Pool, TC&I (Colin Moulding & Terry Chambers, formerly of XTC) Great Aspirations, Kamasi Washington Harmony of Difference.

 

(If I didn’t mention it, either I haven’t heard it, haven’t heard it enough, or remain meh on it…)

 

 

 

 

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