Best of 2019
2019 was a bit of a let-down, frankly. Highly anticipated records from the likes of Piroshka, BLUKE, DJ Shadow and 808 State I found solid but underwhelming, while others from Beck, Esperanza Spalding and the Who were entirely forgettable. After last year's embarrassment of riches the field seems especially thin.
The story is not all bad, though. My year was mostly dominated by small records and idiosyncratic artists: Jonathan Something's sophmore outing proved he was no fluke, flying the freak-folk flag high for all to see. Aerial View's debut for Epitaph found the youngsters deftly threading the needle between surf and power pop, their hearts full of angst and yearning. And the aptly named dumb released the stupidest, jangliest nerd punk record I've heard in years and I absolutely love it.
But looming over these tiny things like a collossus is my record of the year, Devin Townsend's Empath. Heavy Devy's first since dispanding DTP is his most personal, introspective and nakedly ambitious work to date. For all its kitchen sink bombast, its overflowing musical ideas, Empath is the intimate story of a man attempting to reconnect with himself and the world, and it is a massive achievement.
10 808 State - Transmission Suite
09 Spielbergs - This is Not the End
08 Sleater-Kinney - the Center Won't Hold
07 Moonchild - Little Ghost
06 The Future Sound of London - YAGE 2019
05 the Dollyrots - Daydream Explosion
04 Ariel View - Until My Lungs Are Clear
03 dumb - Club Nites
02 Jonathan Something - Art So Small You Can Hardly See It
01 Devin Townsend - Empath
Evilchili's Album of the Year! (Long)
Sweet Zombie Jesus what a year for new music. I bought more 2018 releases in 2018 than I have bought new music in a long while. Partly this is due to blatant cheating: John Zorn and Brian Eno both released massive box sets, and They Might Be Giants dropped three albums (!), two in December. But also surprising releases came from places I didn't expect: a new
Spiritualized record! A new David Byrne record! Dead Can Dance! Dirty Goddamned Computer! Oh, and a lost Coltrane record, because down is up and up is down.
2018 is remarkable for another reason, too: artists at the top of their game *decades* in. Sloan, TMBG, Yo La Tengo, David Byrne and Paul Simon all turned out records as good as anything they've ever done. At this point I don't expect
Sloan to ever record a bad *song*, nevermind a bad record.
But my pick for Evilchili's Album of the Year goes not to any reliable stalwart companion, but to a New Zealand four-piece whose rise to the top of my list was from first listen utterly inevitable. The Beths' debut, Future Me Hates Me, clocks in at just 39 minutes but packs a tremendous sun-drenched power-pop wallop. It ticks all my boxes: boy-girl harmonies, loud guitars, sad, clever lyrics on major chords (and handclaps provided by Yrs Chili). It is,
simply speaking, my favourite record this year and possibly of several years.
Here's my complete Top 10:
01 the Beths - Future Me Hates Me
02 Janelle Monae - Dirty Computer
03 Aphex Twin - Collapse EP
04 Metric - Art of Doubt
05 They Might Be Giants - I Like Fun
06 Sloan - 12
07 CHRVCHES - Love is Dead
08 Subsonic Eye - Dive Into
09 St. Vincent - MassEducation
10 Busdriver - Electricity is On Our Side
David Byrne - American Utopia
Paul Simon - In the Blue Light
They Might Be Giants - the Escape Team
They Might Be Giants - My Murdered Remains
Dead Can Dance - Dionysus
Yo La Tengo - There's a Riot Going On
John Coltrane - Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album
Brian Eno - 77 Million Paintings (Music for Installations)
the Herbalizer - Bring Out the Sound
Ben Caplan - Old Stock
Spiritualized - And Nothing Hurt
Elvis Costello - Look Now
Gnostic Trio - Netzach (John Zorn: Book Bari'ah Vol. 7)
Secret Chiefs 3 - Malkhut (John Zorn: Book Bari'ah, Vol. 10)
the Orb - No Sounds are Out of Bounds
*dances near the edge of the cliff*
in the video for "Close to You" they all get inside a cupboard which falls off a cliff. i wonder if it was the same one?
@akajtg were you following the Cure in 82? I imagine Pornography must have sounded like it came from another planet.
Me: scrolling through yubtub recommendations, clicking on random Cure-related video
Also me: Spending the rest of the evening watching the Cure Trilogy live in Berlin
I love Dvorak's 9th. man oh man.
this is stupid and stupidly impressive. Slay 52s - Raining Lobsters
#bandcamp heist today:
r.a.p. Ferreira - purple moonlight pages
format.EXE - Chipfolk
Say Sue Me - Say Sue Me - Where We Were Together
the Mynabirds - Lovers Know
Split Prophets - Delta Bravo Kilo
Hippo Campus - Landmark
He said, "Burn baby, burn"
'Til the street Samurai said to my face
That any flag that's worth a shit
Was woven from fire in the first place
Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy feels right right now.
Thanks to the mighty KEXP today I discovered Cable Ties, a Melbourne 3 piece playing angry, loud punk with a side of garage surf post-punk. Friends, they are so good! Start with Say What You Mean from their 2017 self-titled debut. Play it LOUD. The new album drops next week!
Jenn Pelly's retrospective on Björk's 2nd album Post is thoughtful and engaging. Good morning my little modern things.
Flavor Flav has been fired from #PublicEnemy, but I figure Chuck D has his pick of replacement no-talent stage props in any of the day's mumble rappers so he'll be fine. There's probably already a Lil Boaty Flav or something.
This has been a rare #shitpost from yours truly; we now return to our regularly scheduled programming.
watching Elisapie on NPR and enjoying it. The band is*really* good: deep blues and tight grooves. a hollow-body electric and baritone sax is hard to argue with.
Good morning my little saxophone recontextualizations
If you're looking to enjoy your New Order records your Pet Shop Boys records and your Smiths records but only have 52 minutes may I suggest the first Electronic record, featuring Bernard Sumner, Neal Tennant, and Johnny Marr?
If you also want to listen to your 808 State records but only have 4 minutes and 35 seconds you might think "that's not enough time for all that awesome!" but I'd tell you about Graham Massey's 12" remix of Electronic's first single, Disappointed, and you wouldn't be.