Web administrator as a consumer (take 3).
Here is a list of all the albums issued in 2018 which I’ve managed to listen to carefully. No ranking applied. Albums are listed chronologically, as they were dropping in my digital folder through illegal channels during the year. Don’t worry, I’ve already purchased few vinyls (some of them colored edition, all of them more or less warped & often pressed off-center using vinyl raw material of questionable quality). I bought one of them even on CD! Actually I would have bought most of them on CD for less money if it weren’t for loud / heavily compressed mastering with crushed dynamics (which for some reason, unfathomable to me, has been happening in the usually more reasonable and less trendy independent sector all these years as well). What a shame.
Superchunk – What a Time to Be Alive
Yeah, me too. What a time to be alive! Any time. Short and swift barrage of concise pop-rock songs bordering on punk-rock from a super band whose albums I don’t like that much (exceptions would be their not-really-appreciated “college rock” issues: “Indoor Living” and “Come Pick Me Up” & lovely collections of early singles, b-sides and throwaway tracks). Reagan Youth! Thatcher Youth. Tito Youth. OK, in case of ex-YU the political icon wasn’t alive anymore. The youth of YU (at least some of them) were haunted by Tito’s ghost, annoying mythology of failed Communism and uncertain future.
What a Time to Be Alive
Break the Glass
Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens
“Jericho Sirens” is a great return album by a veteran band in a long line of excellent return albums by veteran bands that happened this year. What can I say, judging on the level of kinetic energy only, these old dudes probably don’t need sports to stay fit. When it comes to guitar sound, I still love to hear guitar strings and manic strumming a bit more than powerful heavy metal riffing. Hot Snakes are experts in that field. Yahweh is angry. The sirens are giving off loud sound alarm and I don’t hear it. It’s clear that I need a doctor too.
I Need a Doctor
Death of a Sportsman
The Breeders – All Nerve
Here‘s another very nice band that never spoke to me on a personal level. I liked “Pod” when it came out and it still holds very well. That’s it. Hence I approached The Breeders’ new album as an accidental listener, without great expectations. I am glad I gave them a chance in the end. A couple of unconventional pop rock songs from “All Nerve” can really tranquilize raw nerves. There is also a cover version of “Archangels Thunderbird” from the early psychedelic repertoire of drugged-out Amon Düüll II. Geil!
Walking With a Killer
Dawn: Making an Effort
And there is also one song that I’ll dedicate to all the ghosts of this website:
Preoccupations – New Material
Being preoccupied with the past isn’t good for mental health. Neither is headless rushing into the future which has been approaching the speed of light in recent times. Fuck off, future! Disarray. Disarray. Disarray. Preoccupations dropped their original band name “Viet Cong” just like that (principle of non-attachment to win over tiresome political correctness?), adopted a new moniker and moved on. “New Material” turned out to be upgrade on previous self-titled record & a well-rounded album with lots of angular guitar playing. They have finally won me over.
The Ex – 27 Passports
For my quasi review of The Ex’s new album see the blogpost from merry month of May. I didn’t mention Andy Ex (ex Dog Faced Hermans; a great band, by the way) in there so here is an appreciation for his furious guitar playing and persistent activity. Cheers Andy.
The Messthetics – The Messthetics
“The Messthetics” is instrumental jazz-rock album that SST record label could have put out in 1987. Expertly played and nicely recorded by DC senior punk-rockers. I mean the rhythm section comes from Fugazi. However, spotlight is on lead guitarist Anthony Pirog who proved that vocals and words are not always needed. No mess to be found on this pedantic album. I’ve always loved surprises from Dischord.
The Inner Ocean
Once Upon a Time (Sonny Sharrock)
Sleep – The Sciences
Sleep woke up from marijuana induced coma, went into studio with their new drummer and old friend from Neurosis, and recorded a new gatefold album using tube technology from the mid 1970s, those orange & brown seventies of my childhood. And it worked out!
E – Negative Work
“Negative Work” is as good as E’s exceptional debut issued less than two years ago. The songwriting angle didn’t change one bit because there was no reason for it. E are fit and working. It surprises me that I still don’t miss bass guitar. But I missed reportedly great show in Zagreb last summer, played for two dozen people in audience.
A House Inside
The Chills – Snow Bound
Martin Phillipps’s music channeled through unstable and unlucky The Chills will always be welcomed here. On “Snow Bound” his soul-searching is matched with baroque style of songwriting. Due to slightly more complex and ornate use of keyboards, the album can sound stodgy, especially when moodiness takes over me. In that frame of mind “Snow Bound” reminds me of an album by a prog-rock band on the New Wave bandwagon or maybe of a tribute to Split Enz clowns circa ’78. Living ain’t easy. Thank God I like keyboards a lot.
The Greatest Guide
Gnod – Chapel Perilous
“Chapel Perilous” is one more noise-rock album that underwent subtle dub sound treatment by Gnod. Clattering train of trebly sound on the collision course with near future is deafening. It hits hard. All the noiseniks of this world should get it. Turn it up, mate!
Uncle Frank Says Turn It Down
Low – Double Negative
For a triple negative person like me, who stopped following Low releases religiously after “Trust”, “Double Negative” comes like a surprise. OK, I heard “Drums & Guns” in passing, nudged by friends on more than a few occasions. I recalled it while I was listening to “Double Negative” because they seem to be cut from the similar cloth. So, what is then confusing about new Low album? (Watch out! Here I go again.) Filling up empty space with post-production effects to compensate for shortage of fully developed new songs? “Flowers of Romance” syndrome turned into modus operandi? Is this album really Low’s crown achievement? Actually I appreciate changes that Low undertook after “Trust” to move on, straying away from the trodden path of righteousness and opting for variations in sound production since the drastic changes in songwriting are almost impossible. For what is worth, the new approach brought unpleasant side effects too. It truly bugs me to hear a couple of really beautiful songs ruined on purpose with dubious choice aesthetic that mimics recent trends in POP production. (= digital rubbish bin effects: sound of deteriorated diskettes, hard disks with burnt sections, scratched skipping CDs infested with CD rot, glitches all over FLAC downloads, bitcrusher, etc. ) Well, it isn’t like Jamaican dub studio treatment from the 1970s which will always sound otherworldly. Electronic demolishing of rhythm tracks on “Double Negative” sounds cheap and ugly to a pair of average rock ears but probably that was the point, to connect Low and something desperately modern like… Burial. (pardon my ignorance of digital electronic music, my capacity for consuming is limited). On the other hand, those minimal songs without distorted beat / percussion in the background, which hover and chime in the darkest digital chasm, are arresting. Lurid too. “Double Negative” is saved by pop-art context of imminent decay. Sound imprint of a degenerative brain disease.
The Son, The Sun
Dancing and Fire
Viagra Boys – Street Worms
Thanks, The Quietus! A very good pick indeed. Viagra Boys, Swedish “scum” rock group of sorts, play post-punk influenced garage-rock with sax whose filthy echoes and mocking blare won’t reach clean-shaven and respected high cultured Swedish society but they do resonate well over here, in ex lumpenproletariat areas. Since I don’t dig death / black metal (corpses), this entertaining Swedish import of another kind will suffice for the sake of global balance. Slow learner, he is relaxed.
Down in the Basement
Just Like You
The Body – I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer
Is The Body’s music metal? Not quite, but certainly it is HEAVY. “I Have Fought Against It…” has some things in common with Low’s “Double Negative” as well. “Digital garbage” sound effects have been integral part of The Body’s work of art for some time now, perhaps even from their earliest days. Truth be told, I am not very familiar with their prolific output. On several occasions I stumbled upon a very moving recording from their already broad discography. Listening to The Body can be healing experience when applied in moderate doses. Audio homeopathy of sorts. I was deeply impressed with “I Shall Die Here” few years ago. If Low circle in limbo like moths, then these two guys reside in a truly hellish place on Earth.
The West Has Failed
The Last Form of Loving
High On Fire – Electric Messiah
Yet another return to form. High On Fire are not flogging tired horse on “Electric Messiah”. They are indeed on fire with malocchio gestures high in the air. Not all the songs are precious enough to be included on double LP, in my humble opinion, and better impression would give regular album length. In other words, I am too feeble to endure this merciless album in one listening session. HOF’s Thanatos force tramples over my Pathos. The sound formula accomplished together with Converge’s guitarist seems to be optimal solution for forward motion of High On Fire’s style of metal. But I will always return to the odd one produced by Jack Endino – “Death Is This Communion” – a firm favorite to this very day.
Spewn From the Earth
The Pallid Mask
Steps of the Ziggurat / House of Enlil
Mudhoney – Digital Garbage
“Digital Garbage” is kinda funny and sad trad rock album. It’s easier to deal with this world reading comics and listening to rock music. Digital garbage will ruin my hearing and my mind. Corporate garbage will mess with my source of income and affect my material existence. Here comes Mudhoney. (I missed the show in November)
Next Mass Extinction
Portal – Ion
The trap-door that leads to big black nothingness has been unchained by Portal for almost a decade now. Just like the things in life that come when (and where) least expected, the key moment of entering a parallel universe didn’t happen in a cottage in wooded Nordic hinterlands but down under, in sun-scorched Australia. Portal’s audacious art-rock take on death metal / black metal pummeling is so good and weird that some artfags (including me) might try to claim them from metal hordes.
ESP ION AGE
Šumski – Ostrvo ledenog kita
Izvrstan povratnički album grupe Šumski za sve fanove iz Zagreba, Hrvatske, šire jugoistočne regije te za ponekog slučajnog međunarodnog slušatelja. Šumski se ipak nisu zgubili. Vrnuli su se jači i profinjeniji nego ikad prije. Sveprisutni zagrebački gitarist Franjo Glušac je novi član.
Prijatelji se sele na selo
A note for an intrigued foreign visitor:
Ostrvo ledenog kita, the long awaited new album from the incredible Šumski is out now! Described as a kaleidoscopic blend of kraut, pop, afro, psycho and comic-strip sounds from the heart of the Balkans. Check it out!
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – King Of Cowards
Over three decades of listening I’ve heard more than enough rock music based on Ramones template (updated mid-1960s US garage-rock). I am still not bored or fed up with sudden surge of bands that took Black Sabbath as a role model (but I might be soon). I am not sorry that nothing seems new or original anymore. I don’t care. Malevolent Sabbath spirit cannot be exorcised easily.
The Sea and Cake – Any Day
The sea (Adriatic Sea!) and cake (with less sugar, please!) for me any day. (hmmm, maybe not at the peak summer season and during winter months). I can see it clearly in my mind’s eye – a cup of good quality coffee while sitting at peace on a terrace in the sun overlooking the secluded inlet & enjoying autistic American blue-eyed soul songs by jazz-pop group The Sea and Cake. Perfect background for leisure and drifting off… Cluttered storage space I am going to leave behind… I will. It’s gonna be escapism par excellence. Any day now. Ciao.
I Should Care