October is usually an interesting music month as the last rush of releases before the holidays hit the shelves. At the same time the first tracks anticipating albums to be released in the new year begin to drop all while music media commentator types start to seriously look back at the year. So here we are. It won’t be long before the flood of “Best of the Year” lists. As for “albums of the year,” Rough Trade is usually first out of the gate with a list posted the week before Thanksgiving. By the start of December most of the UK music mags – Uncut, Q, Mojo etc – have released their January issues with their yearly lists and publications of all kinds are not far behind. For reader engagement there’s several reasons to publish these lists prior December, most obviously: to grab music fans’ attention before the tidal wave of similar recaps wears the topic thin. For some of us music fans though it feels like releases in the end of the year get short-sticked. Every year exciting music in October and November falls under too many fans’ radar as most of the media becomes preoccupied with prepping year-end lists. For this reason let’s hold out a little longer to post about the best of the year: recaps of each of the remaining months of the years are still more pressing!
Rocknuts’ and The Fire Note’s Christopher Tahy
I’m gong to have to throw the Gizzard back in there because King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s ‘Crumbling Castles’ has to be one of my favorite songs they’re done this year and that’s saying a lot. The Breeders teased us with their new track ‘Get in the Car’ and it’s pure fun. I cannot wait to see what their album holds when it releases in the spring. Just as I love my rocking’ Aussies, King Gizzard, psych, metal Aussies ORB also hold a special place with their fantastic Naturality. On a dreary cool not Destroyer’s ken has been bouncing around my ears as well. I’ve also been catching up a lot on albums that I’ve missed getting ready for end of the year fun. Mac DeMarco’s This Old Dog, Fleet Foxes’ Crack-Up, and METZ Strange Peace to name a few.
Rocknuts.net goal is simple: be a website about rock music that doesn’t suck. New and old music alike is covered, as long as it rocks. Check out Christopher Tahy’s posts here and follow Rocknuts at twitter/SirRocknuts and facebook/rocknuts.net. Tahy also writes for online music magazine thefirenote.com – which covers new alternative, indie and rock with reviews, tour info, vinyl spotlights, 7-inch features and more. Read Tahy’s Fire Note posts here, follow the site on Twitter and Facebook, and follow Chris at twitter/christophertahy.
Psych Insight Music founder, Simon Smith
“Causa Sui talk of a postmodern ethos, and the meaning of the bands name, ’cause of itself’ is itself arguably postmodern. This does not mean that the band do not honour their influences, rather they celebrate and explore them… but what they do not do is get bogged down by them. They are no tribute band mindlessly tripping out music as if it is somehow canonical. Neither are they setting one genre above another. Rather on ‘Vibraciones Doradas’ we hear a band at the height of their powers where the individual members bring in their own separate experiences and meld them together in a way that is technically wonderful and emotionally satisfying…”
“The sheer length and depth of this box set makes buying it and listening to it quite a commitment. I am sure their existing followers will have already jumped at the chance to own such an artefact (and Adansonia Records have done a great job putting this together). For those not so familiar with the band, like myself, there may be some reticence to make the temporal and monetary investment required. For me it has been worthwhile spending time with the band (and you can stream the whole thing on bandcamp to reduce the risk). I had previously thought Electric Orange were a band defined by such as ‘Continuum’ and ‘Faint’, great tracks but of a sort that did not instantly wow me. It is the darker side of the band that has been the real revelation though, with ‘Gnosis’, Misphonia IV & V’, and ‘Residuum’ really standing out as powerful sonic statements; while ‘Under the Nun’ is different again with it’s punning title and funky grooves. Together this collection of tracks makes for an amazingly powerful evening of listening.”
“You could listen to it on one level and get massive arcs of sound that pull you along, but listen another way and each track seems to be a series of improvised vignettes, chapters in an unfolding story if you like, all of which are important for the overall feel. As such this is already proving to be an album that needs to be heard again and again. The closer you listen to it. The exception to this is ‘The Lady and the Archer’ which is a tighter and more focussed piece that is rapidly proving to be one of my favourite tracks of recent times (check it out below). After that ‘Ancient Wings Taking Flight’ seems even more fragmented and out there. Brilliant!”
Psych Insight Music is the essential reference for staying up to date with the current psych scene, particularly the new releases criminally overlooked elsewhere on the web. Follow Simon’s favorite new listens at bandcamp.com/psychinsightmusic, facebook/psychinsightmusic and twitter.com/psychinsightmsc.
Independent Ethos co-founder Hans Morgenstern
Last month, Slowdive released a beautiful but sad video directed by Grant Singer for the upbeat “Don’t Know Why,” from their self-titled 2017 album. Between a Siberian husky frolicking in a field at dawn and lovers breaking up among a crash of waves at dusk, the video captures both bliss and melancholy. It all ends with the girl alone fighting with a clerk in a donut shot that appears to be the setting for many a similar scene in the indie movie Tangerine.
Vice chair of the Florida Film Critics Circle, Hans writes about indie music and cinema for a variety of websites including MiamiNewTimes.com and his own Independent Ethos. Follow updates at facebook/IndependentEthos and twitter.com/Indieethos.
The Owl Mag’s Wayne Jessup
Before we slip succumb to a nostalgic look at the best of 2017, here’s a quick preview of a few notable things to look for in 2018. Two artists flying the flag for the great state of California have new releases pending, and their first singles show them still engaged and ready for the fight…
Repping LA punk is no easy game, and few have done it with the verve and single mindedness of LA’s No Age. Their last LP An Object defined their idiosyncratic journey, as they literally recorded and manufactured the album (as much as they could), with their own hands, turning over the finished product at completion. Starting over with a new label, and a return to their roots, noise-wise, No Age sound as vital as ever, pinning your ears back from the first blast with “Soft Collar Fad,” off Snares Like A Haircut, out in January on Chicago’s Drag City.
Picking up seamlessly from ’14’s Nikki Nack, Merrill Garbus combines that LP’s high gloss with the energy burst of her 2011 breakthrough Whokill in “Look At Your Hands”, the lead single off forthcoming LP i can feel you creep into my private life (Jan. 2018). It doesn’t take a huge stretch to imagine that the overlying theme will be life under the new regime, and that this is the same group that’s listened to Remain In Light one time too many (in a good way), While we’re loathe to compare bands, Tune-Yards is one of the very few bands that capture both the head and the butt in the unique way that Talking Heads did all those years ago.
Nightshift Magazine and musicOMH’s Sam Shepherd
This month I’ve been mainly listening to John Carpenter’s album of Themes taken from his hugely influential body of film work. It’s easy to forget how important his musical scores are. Just listen to the theme from Halloween – if that doesn’t get your spine tingling, nothing will. Elsewhere I’ve been enjoying the latest releases from Watter and Esmerine – both are worthy of investigation. Finally, the latest from Taylor Swift is pretty special. Although I can’t hear “Look What You Made Me Do” and not hear Steven Toast doing a version of it. YES!
This Is Not A Drill founder and Drowned In Sound writer Lee Adcock
Ah, me. In any other year, I’d be all for the ghouls and goblins that come alive in October. For several reasons, though, the sublime masquerade has passed me by – maybe it’s my recent commitment to improving myself, to preserving whatever corner of humanity I can in the face of certain hateful others, that dulls the thrills of make-believe spooks. Or maybe it’s the fact that the first full week of November contains the three gigs I’ve been dying to see since August (and which you’ll hear about in time). Chalk it up to both, really.
But never mind that. This month still bore some fruits, even without the undead at my feet. The best gig, hands down, goes to both Billy Woods and Open Mike Eagle, two very intelligent gents who’ve both put out impressive records this year. Kudos to Eagle, especially, for his “Ask Mike” advice segment, wherein he tackled the question, “Is it normal that I’m ~this~ close to marriage, and yet I’m attracted to every dick in this room?” (Actually, she clarified, 70% of the dicks in that room). Not to mention, he’s recently appeared on a beautiful mini-doc on the AV Club, where he talks about the now demolished housing project that his album centers on. Such a swell guy.
As for recorded content – one of my biggest surprises this month was a local one, a very brisk and manic tape from the chaotic ensemble BKGD (that’s “background”). Think somewhere between the Fall and Guerilla Toss, but with theology laid out, chopped up, and reassembled collage-style into a glorious mess.
Reviews, songs of the day, interviews and more, This Is Not A Drill shines a light on the best music you’re probably not hearing elsewhere. Follow on Twitter and Facebook. Lee is also a critic for drownedinsound.com, collapseboard.com and immersiveatlanta.com.
Jam Band Purist founder R. A. Fadley
This month has been full of newly released albums from some of my favorite bands and musicians out there today. The Marcus King Band released their EP “Due North” and I have been working on a full review for my website at jambandpurist.weebly.com. Anything from Marcus King seems to be right up my alley. The Antibalas released their newest album Where The Gods Are In Peace and I received the vinyl not too long ago. The Antibalas take Afro beat and their brand of World Music to another level. You can check both of these bands out on tour right now.
I traveled to Las Vegas to see Widespread Panic’s 3 night run for Halloween. The music was exceptional and you can check out this performance at nugs.net. Widespread Panic continue to thrill audiences with their Southern Gothic songwriting and improvisational live performances. Here is to more music!
Ravin’ Wire founder, Bob Sarles
I have three new albums that have been on my turntable this month I’d like to turn folks on to. The first is Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul’s new Soulfire, and impeccably produced record from Steven Van Zandt. I also recently saw this band live at San Francisco’s historic Fillmore and it was one of the greatest rock and roll concerts I have ever attended. Second on my list this month is David Crosby’s latest Sky Trails. Listen to this one with no expectations and it will surprise you. Some of the tracks sound almost like Steely Dan. Cros’ voice has never sounded better. The last record on my list is from Crosby’s old Byrds bandmate Chris Hillman’s titular Bidin My Time, produced by the late, great Tom Petty. Well worth a listen.
The roots of The Ravin Wire go back to a mid-1990s e-mail list-service that sent subscribers several articles per day. Since 2009 followers have been updated with a variety of content from across the web shared on the Ravin Wire facebook page by Bob Sarles – a filmmaker and film and television editor based out of San Francisco and Los Angeles – and by following Bob Sarles’ twitter account.
A couple of things caught our attention last month.
First of all, but kinda last, released this Summer, Kevin Parker (of Tame Impala fame) gave Mick Jagger a little bit of his Midas touch (ooo, naughty!), with a remix of Jagger’s ‘Gotta Get A Grip’. It’s a rocking rifftastic remix and it’s been banging into our eardrums ever since. Check it.
Then, ever later in the game, Sam Evian, the newly discovered gem by the team. We suggest you give ‘Carolina’ a listen.
Then cherry on the top. John Maus is back, and in full force. A great month of October, with a sweet album release, mixtapes here and there and the kick-off of a new tour to witness one of Maus’ rare performances.
St. Vincent, “Masseduction”
St. Vincent has become an artist whose new albums I anticipate and will probably purchase sound unheard. The two pre-release tracks from “Masseduction” — “New York” and “Los Ageless” — certainly let me know I was going to like it. Annie Clark is one of the smartest songwriters going these days, and her assertively forward-thinking guitar style (and overall sonic sense) revs me up and inspires me.
Robert Plant, “Carry Fire”
I haven’t paid too close attention to Robert Plant’s recent Americana forays, but this new set of songs urges me to look back and fully consider his recent body of Nashville output. I like a good atmospheric album that maintains a real focus. It sets a scene but doesn’t get lost.
Wax Fang featuring Lacey Guthrie, “Glass Island”
This Kentucky alterna-prog outfit keep capturing my attention. I love their oeuvre. They specialize in mini-operas or a sort, sometimes just within a single song. That’s the case with “Glass Island,” which begins as a contemplative electronic groove (Lacey Guthrie’s section) before soaring into the particular sort of anthem that Wax Fang is so good at.
Dhani Harrison, “In Parallel”
I just added this to my collection a few days ago, but I’m digging Dhani’s groove right away. Nice sounds, catchy murky-pop.
Downtown Randall Brown writes a weekly column for the USA Today network’s Knoxville News Sentinel and fronts the band Quartjar – buy their latest album Squatch: An Odyssey In Space and Time on bandcamp. Follow Brown at twitter.com/RandallMBrown.
The Gig Whores
Easy this time: St. Vincent. I love it.
The Gig Whores community offers up all things music, sometimes focusing in on, though by no means limited to San Diego.
IndieNugget co-founder, Maria Lopes
My favorite was Terno Rei’s “Circulares.” It is from a very nice Brasilian band.
Fingertips’ Jeremy Schlosberg
Wolf Parade – Valley Boy
Musically, “Valley Boy” presents with a sonic depth and acumen that belies its pop-song length. There are dissonant motifs and churning textures; there are also moments of clearing, and some attentive, Television-ish guitar interweavings. Krug has been quoted as saying, intriguingly, that “the band itself is almost a fifth member of the band,” as a way of describing and/or explaining the group’s authoritative sound. I like that.
Click here to read more on Fingertips.
Jessica Lea Mayfield – Sorry Is Gone
“Sorry is Gone” has a haunting presence, from its mantra-like chorus to the engrossing, unresolved melodies of the verse. Gliding by in a subtle, velvety cloak of reverb, the song wraps up in a concise 3:21, and if Mayfield didn’t consciously select the launch-like run time, let’s call it serendipity.
Click here to read more on Fingertips.
The Luxembourg Signal – Laura Palmer
This is one of those fortunate longer songs that creates such a seductive atmosphere as to feel, still, rather too short than too long. To my ears, it’s the artful amalgam of voice and guitar that carries “Laura Palmer” to such an exquisite place.
Click here to read more on Fingertips.
Fingertips‘ self-appointed mission is ‘to help discerning music lovers find the web’s best free and legal downloads,’ which it does with its monthly MP3 picks. The site also features its Eclectic Playlist Series, a monthly playlist that curates music from six or more decades and many different genres. Follow at twitter.com/fingertipsmusic.
Emerging Indie Bands founder Tim Whale
Just as their name suggests, emergingindiebands.com posts multiple times per day about up-and-coming groups you probably haven’t heard yet. Follow on twitter/indiebandsblog, facebook/indiebandsblog, google/+indiebandsblog and vk/emergingindiebands.
Indie Shuffle founder Jason Grishkoff
“I’m addicted to finding new music,” Jason Grishkoff from Indie Shuffle says, “and I’m lucky to do it as a full-time job.” Jason picked the following songs for his site’s monthly playlist.
- Pale Grey – Seasons
- BØRNS – Sweet Dreams
- Dizzy – Stars And Moons
- Stereo Honey – The Bay
- Luke Marzec – When We First Met
- Nick Mulvey – We Are Never Apart
- Charlotte & Magon – Always A Secret
- Original Swimming Party – Biggest Curse (Ft. Moonchild Sanelly)
- Mobley – Swoon (Lonely Child Remix)
- Bergfilm – Nostalgic Love
- C O M M A N D – Cowboykiller
- Tash Sultana – Mystik
- Little Dragon – Ritual Union (Auxil Remix)
- AQUILO – Thin
- Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Maribou State Edit)
- Klangstof – Everest
- Catalina – After All
- Daniel Caesar – Best Part (Daju Remix)
- Bearcubs – Do You Feel
- Jarami – Hear This
- Landings – Everybody Wants
- Masego – Tadow (Ft. FKJ)
- Rhye – Taste
- Curtis Mayfield – Move On Up (Avid Dancer Cover)
- Michael Seyer – Pretty Girls
- Braille Face – Faraway
An essential site for discovering the greatest of the latest new music, Indie Shuffle uses a unique music player powered by SoundCloud to facilitate carefully curated listening. Follow Indie Shuffle at twitter.com/indieshuffle.
Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile Lotta Sea Lice – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
It’s loose, spirited, off-the-cuff and totally endearing. The admiration and enthusiasm that each artist has for the other is apparent and fills the track with a sunny energy that is contagious. It’s a meditation on the joys of making music that actually manages to capture the very magic it is about. It’s catchy, atmospheric, insightful and ends with a winning jam.
Brainbeau Hold On – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
A journey through a love as pathological and futile as it is unconditional and courageous. But perhaps it’s also documenting a struggle to overcome an endemic cultural malaise, or to even find love in the first place.
Siv Jakobsen The Nordic Mellow – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
Made up of ten gut-wrenching songs that will tug at all heart strings at once, The Nordic Mellow is a unique combination of dark lyrics, symphony-inspired instrumentals and Jakobsen’s gentle yet mellifluous vocals.
Lime Cordiale Permanent Vacation – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
While the album marks an undeniable progression of Lime Cordiale’s sound, fans of that summer-soaked festival band that have enjoyed the no frills, hold-my-beer-while-I-get-up-and-dance-to-this-one tunes ever since Faceless Cat shouldn’t feel alienated.
Sabrina Lawrie Hush the Mountain – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
Hush the Mountain is rock ‘n’ roll, but not without this creeping, serrated edge which carves its character into every arrangement the album contains. Lawrie’s undoubtedly effective compositions are undercut with this individuality, felt within the vocal sways in Little Red Houses or the frustrated columns of Headgames.
Ivan Beecroft Whatever – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
On his newest record Ivan Beecroft stays true to his roots, avoiding any of the posturing, self-promotion or general bullshit associated with the upper echelons of modern, business-oriented music. In a word, it’s refreshing.
Happy is quarterly music and youth culture print magazine based in Enmore, Australia that also publishes new music reviews and special features daily on their web site, hhhhappy.com. The whole music world should know by now there’s something special going on done under (King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, The Tame Impala/ Pond posse, etc). Happy is the essential source to stay updated on that scene and beyond. Follow on twitter at twitter.com/happymagtv.
Zoya Feldman from Hype Machine linked us to Stack, the site’s weekly “mix of the most interesting new music on the web, handpicked by the Hype Machine team.”
Stack #160 with Boys, Girlhood, Project Pablo, Ryan Power, premieres from Yumi Zouma, Reptaliens, and Sound of Ceres
Stack #161 with Nilüfer Yanya, Weaves, Kodie Shane, Gel Set, Zara McFarlane
Stack #162 with 30/70, PRO TEENS, L-Vis 1990 & Mista Silva & GAIKA, Lindstrom and Jenny Hval
Stack #163 with CCFX, Reo Cragun, Frankie Rose covering The Cure, Night Dives, Romare
Since 2005 Hype Machine has tracked the new tunes generating buzz on the countless blogs around the world and allowed an easy way to listen to them all. Subscribe to their weekly Stack series by e-mail here and follow Hype Machine at twitter.com/hypem.