in this issue page 4
identity, unconditional friendship, and the power of snoop dogg bella mazzetti interviews bard babes, o-face
the music of baltimore shane mccord of baltimore’s sun club talks music form his hometown
an interview with celestial shore the miscreant asks band frontman sam owens about what’s new with these brooklyn darlings
photos: the le sigh vol. ii zine launch party the miscreant shares photos from this kick ass show
going for broke: the politics & privilege of geography steven spoerl creates a thriving scene in nowheresville, america
my top 9 cat interactions of 2014 robert reichle lists his favorite feline run-ins of the year
page 20 a q&a with dylan wright cassandra baim speaks with the chicago artist about his budding musical inspirtation page 24
making a list; not checking it twice; take that santa jeremy garber lists his gut’s favorite record of 2014
page 26 2014: a pretty damn good year for music olivia cellamare raises a toast to the 2014 releases from her favorite bands page 30
getting to know: jack + eliza mary luncsford speaks with the new york-based duo
a new year’s playlist in 3 parts laura lyons arms you with songs for every chapter of the evening
home is where your walkmen is kyle kuchta talks about finding his footing wherever he lands
enter the mirror joel jensen heath creates a comic
i heard that song again but didn’t think of you this time david kramer lets go of a personal connection
2014: keymasters to our hearts morgan schaffner & rachel corson list their favorite albums of 2014
IDENTITY, UNCONDITIONAL FRIENDSHIP, AND THE POWER OF SNOOP DOGG: AN INTRODUCTION TO O-FACE by bella mazzetti To a passerby O-Face may seem like an average group of college boys making music under a silly name, but with a little extra digging that passerby would come to realize that they are so much more. The band was founded by lifelong friends Preston Ossman and Seth Sobottka while they were attending different high schools around Seattle, Washington. After deciding to enroll at Bard College together, O-Face continued on, but in a new form. The two guitarists and vocalists were joined by Atticus Pomerantz (bass), Clay Kaledin (drums), and Dash Flach (keyboard) in their freshman year at Bard and since then the band has transformed even more. They have a lot to offer, churning out an album of songs that are both nothing alike and strangely cohesive. After a year of recording (mostly on their own), mixing, and mastering, O-Face has finally released their first full-length album, Taste, which Ossman calls a “transitional” album that showcases music written while he and Sobottka were still in high school as well as music written as a five piece. Not only is it their first full-length, but also the first time anyone who hasn’t seen their live show is able to listen to what they sound like as a complete package. As a full band, O-Face kicks every genre they are influenced by in the butt, putting a new spin on their musical inspirations (anything from R.E.M. to Cap’n Jazz, in case you were wondering) creating sounds that are fresh and non-derivative. It seems that one way O-Face continues to show their uniquity is through “G-Folk,” a mysterious word tagged on their Bandcamp. Ossman says that G-Folk, a genre named by him and Sobottka, is consistently an important part of their music. He states that, “G-Folk comes from G-Funk--like Warren G, Regulators, Snoop Dogg. It reflects subtle hip-hop inspiration.” He explains that their EP Shrug Life was more musically influenced by the genre than Taste is, but that Taste is still influenced by G-Folk lyrically. He says, “Even the newer songs, which aren’t really that bedroom poppy, still have lyrics about smoking blunts and rockin’ Rick James. We like G-Folk because it can be whatever we want it to be.” Hip-hop inspiration is not the only influential detail in the band’s lyrics; they also introduce their audience to a character, which the band is presumably named after, called O-Face. And while the band itself does
not revolve around the concept of this man, he often inspires themes within their music. Ossman says, “O-Face is a character that haunts our music--occasionally we explicitly mention him, other times it’s more of a concept that informs the songs lyrically. O-Face is basically anybody that struggles with defining their own identity. The guy struggles creatively and emotionally as we all do. He kinda serves as a foil, an abstract, artistic personification, something to build an aesthetic around.” As seniors at Bard College, the band is tasked with deciding what to do in the future. For starters, in January they will begin recording an EP with Joe Reinhart, guitarist and producer of Algernon Cadwallader and Hop Along. With one unbelievably catchy album under their belt and an EP forthcoming, the band has a plan to stay together after college, although they are unsure of where exactly they will settle. All they know is that they want to continue living together, “paying bills and making tunes,” showing that the bond of friendship that these boys share is unbreakable- and that Snoop Dogg transcends genre.
This issue is brought to you by pups.
Single of the
For this issue’s single of the week, we’re making a selection from Celestial Shore’s latest release Enter Ghost. It is a bumpy, succulent, highenergy cruiser called “Pass Go.” It sounds like a dizzing dance around the City or alone, around your room. The album is out now on Hometapes!
THE MUSIC OF BALTIMORE by sun club’s shane mccord
Baltimore is one of the sickest places around, maybe one would even say “the sickest.” Always has had one of the best music scenes in the whole country and often is overlooked/skipped over on bands’ tours. Super lucky to be living here and soaking in this incredibly talented and super amazing town before people start to notice that it’s the hawt spot and it becomes what Brooklyn is. So many amazing bands out of here that I wanted to include in this but didn’t because I didn’t have the space or they have no recordings yet. Lemme tell you something hawt- lots more Baltimore stuff on the horizon that is better than everything in the world so hey, this place is great. Wrote about the super bros of ours and some others who aren’t super bros but just love ‘em so much anyway. Goblin Mold – “Something’s Wrong” Very great band love ‘em to death. One of my favorite Baltimore bands for sure when they lasted perfect music all year round. Now a couple of them play in another very sexi band Sherman Whips. Us and Us Only – “Rapture” Deep cut from another very hawt local band. Old song but still kills it. Their new stuff is amazing too and just heard their new recordings and they’re better than anything they’ve ever done before. Crazy dark pop it’s so insane. Dungeon Dids – “Wife Out” More bros who kill it. Oooo that melody at the end gets ya everytime cheese. Love these boys, same deal w/ them- all their new stuff is soo amazing. These boys have a lot coming in the next lil bit! Blood Knight- “Path to Exile” Metal brothers shredding it to the end. \m/ \m/ Chiffon – “Find Me” Super hawt tune from a very cool band. Don’t know these dudes personally but hey they rok and are baltimore ppl! Wing Dam – “Cocoon” Really sick song from an amazing band from here as well. Love these dudes. This song has an awesome music video to it too that makes it 10x better while watching. Beach House – “Saturn Song” I know they’re super popular and don’t fit in w/ the rest of the list but hey, super amazing song from an even better band. Killin’ it always. Flag Day – “Shoulda Walked u Home” Seriously one of the best songs by one of the best dudes we know. This album was recorded when we lived in Boston, but he recently moved here and so siked about it. listen to shane’s band, baltimore’s own, sun club here: sunclub.bandcamp.com
The Miscreant: How and when did you all meet each other? Sam Owens: In Boston, around 2008. Greg and Max had a punk band called Pedestrian Scramble. Greg and I started playing together and started a band with Lorely Rodriguez (Empress Of) and Max joined. Greg, Max, Alec Pombriant (We Can All Be Sorry) and I moved into a sketchy loft in lower Allston. Our landlord was a slumlord. We didn’t have heat for the winter, so to keep warm we practiced playing loud rock and roll. When we went to pay rent, the slumlord offered us shots of whiskey and empty promises of a pellet burning wood stove. We used to have shows at the loft. A high profile gang lived across the street, and they used to charge admission to our parties and pocket the cash. We had sock hops, mostly. For Halloween we learned how to play Odyssey and Oracle, which solidified our devotion to drums/bass/guitar/keyboard based pop music. The Miscreant: What artists would you cite as influences that you each brought to the table at the start of the band? Sam: The Zombies, The Beatles, The Kinks, The Band, Big Star, T.Rex, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Tony Williams, Deerhoof, Dirty Projectors, Zach Hill, Charles Ives, Stravinsky, Debussy. These influences haven’t changed [since the start of the band], we just keep adding more. The Miscreant: You recently released your album Enter Ghost -- how do you think you’ve progressed sonically on this record from 10x? Sam: Enter Ghost is our first record as a trio, so our sound has simplified in a way. The writing and performance of the record was dictated by our live set. All of the songs were road tested on tours, in front of the spectrum of American audiences. The Miscreant: And how would you categorize this record thematically? Sam: It’s very basic, but hard to pin down a single theme. I guess it’s a collection of stories. I like to think of driving through Brooklyn in a cab late at night, catching glimpses of neighborhoods you’ve lived in, and the old haunts that you’ve crawled in or 9
out of. Passing the corner on Knickerbocker Ave that marks a streak of failure, or the rise up and onto the BQE where you remember why you live where you live. Sub text: In Hamlet, the stage direction “Enter Ghost” appears in text before the ghost of King Hamlet appears. I was intrigued by the hero-as-fool legend, and felt that it was relatable to our record. The Miscreant: I’m particularly interested in the song, “Gloria.” Ever since I heard it performed live last year, it sounded like a playful song for New York. But perhaps I am wrong -- who is Gloria? Sam: About a year ago a slew of creative elite wrote articles about how the old New York is lost to the developing bourgeois class. The narrative of “Gloria” came from that sentiment. I tried to put myself in the melodrama. I think the dreamboats of the 70s and 80s were foolish not to acknowledge the droves of cash-poor artists and creative geniuses that still inhabit this city. Rich people are getting richer, poor people are getting poorer, and New York will always be a hard place to live. The Miscreant: Where did you all record the record? Sam: The Rare Book Room in Greenpoint. We had 1 week, Albini-style. The Miscreant: I feel like visuals are a really big part of Celestial Shore, and your videos especially are really strong statements -- Can you talk a bit about Angela Stempel’s animated video for “Creation Myth”? Sam: Angela is a brilliant animator. She liked the concept of the song and ran with it. I love how she picked up on the dystopian undertones. The idea of the music video is pretty dried up, along with the industry behind it. Angela did a wonderful job of breathing life into something that has become a boring formality for most bands. The Miscreant: Talk a bit about the interactive video you made for “Animal Ratio.” How did you meet the developer behind it? How did the concept for the “Animal Ratio” game/video come about? 10
Sam: Julian Glander is a super talented designer living in Pittsburgh. We met each other through Steven Peters of Shopping Spree, who I went to high school with in North Carolina. Julian made an iPhone game with Steven’s music called Cloudytown, where you rain on fires that pop up around town. It’s like a simple existential meditation trinket. One night in Pittsburgh during our tour with Ava Luna, Julian took us to a banjo night at a local Elks Lodge, where we hatched a plan for the “Animal Ratio” game. He modeled the floor after the checkerboard show space at Death By Audio. (RIP.) It’s like an interactive music video with the same ghee whiz cheekiness of Cloudytown. The Miscreant: You all have hit the road and even have gone out to the West coast. Been anywhere new that’s been special? Sam: Yes! We were out west for Thanksgiving with nothing to do, so we drove to the town where most of Twin Peaks was filmed. It’s called North Bend, Washington. We got a cheap motel and had a pretty depressing truck stop meal. Later, we hit the casino for a few hours, and spent the rest of the night watching Jurassic Park and self-medicating. In the morning we sat down for breakfast at the Twin Peaks diner. The cherry pie is not what it seems, but we were happy to be there, dreaming of Norma and fresh coffee. On our way out of town, we drove around listening to the Twin Peaks soundtrack, and found the famous waterfall where the Great Northern is perched. I thought of Coop. “Harry, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan on it, don’t wait for it, just let it happen.” The Miscreant: Where have you not toured before that you’d like to explore next? Sam: Japan! The Miscreant: What does 2k15 hold for Celestial Shore? Sam: Record number 3!!!
THE LE SIGH VOL. II ZINE LAUNCH PARTY SUNDAY, DECEMBER 21ST @ THE SILENT BARN JAWBREAKER REUNION FREE CAKE FOR EVERY CREATURE MANORS ADULT MOM THELESIGH.COM photos by the miscreant
GOING FOR BROKE: THE POLITICS & PRIVILEGE OF GEOGRAPHY AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL INHABITANTS OF NOWHERESVILLE by steven spoerl
“Go for broke”: an everyday phrase used in a myriad of situations, some appropriate and some less so. Even with that taken into consideration, it’s a call to action that I haven’t been able to shake for the past several months. Back in July, I left behind any semblance of financial stability when I made a swift exit from a job that’d been implementing rules that stood in direct opposition to my ethics (while enforcing a schedule that proved to be debilitating to both my physical and mental health). I left with no back-up plan in a small town with a crippled job economy in the middle of Wisconsin. Going for broke was about to become the only thing I knew how to do; every action took on an exaggerated meaning and my collapsing finances quickly turned into a tightening noose. Friends, family, and entertainment were my saving graces as I plummeted from a reasonable standing into a small amount of debt. Some of the blows were softened by routine bi-weekly trips to give plasma, which provided me enough for gas and food over the course of several months. During this time, I committed myself to a re-examination of my goals and my surroundings. Going broke became the necessary push into going for broke. Most of my diminishing funds would be spent on the gas needed to drive the four-five hours to Chicago, the three-four hours it is to Minneapolis, or the two or more hour trips to Madison and Milwaukee. All of those trips’ meanings increased tenfold in worth because they allowed a personal restoration that’s hard to come by in a city whose location and size dictates a severe disallowance of anything resembling a healthy live music scene. This is where things get complicated. One of the nation’s best student-run radio stations, a decent college, and five too many bars have facilitated an influx of artistic types who are, more often than not, pining after a decent show. Sure, the college brings in a few worthwhile bands every year- but the sound system’s lacking (the onstage PA mix has been a fairly notorious nightmare for any band to successfully navigate) and it’s patrolled. Freedom’s a little restricted and there’s an emphasis on professionalism. It’s the only all-ages venue that hosts shows at a half-frequent pace within 30 miles in any direction. As a result, a small number of people (myself included) have actively worked on setting up, booking, and promoting shows at basement venues when presented with the rare opportunity of hosting a decent bill. Unfortunately, these venues never seem to make it through more than a year and it’s a miracle if there are two operating at the same time. Noise complaints, “neighborly concern”, and general shenanigans regularly abound and ensure a short-lived run for the house(s) involved. While being so deprived of live shows as a regular function can be infuriating on a regular basis, it does have one beautiful knockon effect: when everything lines up just right and a decent lineup miraculously falls to a basement, the city comes together and makes those shows count. It’s not uncommon to see more than 100 people pass in and out of a musky beer-soaked basement on these
nights, with nearly everyone being an active participant in whatever show’s happening. Introductions get made, bands draw enthusiastically appreciative audiences, there’s an incredible level of respect, an equal level of admiration, and an experiences that fosters the communal aspects of DIY music to their near-impossible extremes. Everyone takes care of each other and unfurls an insane amount of affection towards the bands made up of the people crazy enough to veer their tours off-course by two hours or more. My awareness of just how inherently unique these reactions are recently hit their peak when I was afforded the opportunity of throwing a show featuring a number of bands I’d always wanted to see. Meat Wave, Mumblr, and Geronimo! all were kind enough to make time in their tour schedules to play a basement here and the increasingly strong reactions that each band drew only strengthened a few of my realizations. The people that exist within this small but undyingly passionate community all carry a go for broke ethos; the prospect of seeing something like a show featuring three touring bands isn’t a regularity- it’s a delicacy. Without the competitive structures that so often manifest in the margins of thriving scenes, there’s an unwavering acceptance and an unreserved enthusiasm for anyone who so much as picks up a guitar. There’s genuine care poured into any house show and a desire to make that night as singular of an experience as possible. More work and dedication is put towards these shows than most people who reside here put into their day jobs. People
embrace the chance to embrace every little detail of these nights and it’s an extraordinary thing to witness. Chicago, Minneapolis, Madison, Milwaukee, and all of the other major show markets have their fair share of opportunity to host bands that matter. A number of them (All Dogs, Radiator Hospital, Perfect Pussy, LVL UP, Mitski, etc.) showed me a generous kindness I’ll always be grateful for because- while they didn’t know it at the time- I was teetering on the brink of impending disaster and those were the moments that allowed me to feel alive while inspiring me to fight back. I was going broke and going for broke at roughly the same rate. Since then, some of those ships have been righted, and a genuinely harrowing experience has begun to slowly fade into the rearview mirror. I’ll still pine to leave this place and I’ll still gladly lose money on seeing the bands, writers, and people I love (Sasha, Aaron, I can’t thank you enough for your humanity). One day I may even make good on my promise to move out to New York or some other major city where I have friends who will welcome me with open arms. Until then, I’ll call this non-descript place home and feel a certain amount of pride in the people that surround me. Together, we’ll go for broke. We’ll stake our reputations on what this city is capable of achieving. We’ll die fighting for the things we love. We’ll make this place as beautiful as possible and we’ll create something worth calling memorable- even if it’s just for a night. And then we’ll do it all over again because it’s not where you are- it’s never where you areit’s what you do with your time that’s spent in that space. If there’s no music, bring the music to you. If there are no venues, make do with what you’re given and create one as best you can. If your long-term well-being necessitates going broke; go after the things you love without hesitation. Go further. Go with purpose. Go for broke. Visit http://heartbreakingbravery.com/ for more from Steven.
MY TOP 9 CAT INTERACTIONS OF 2014 by robert reichle
End of the year lists are by their very existence, an exercise of authority. They attempt to say that if you enjoyed a thing that that person has enjoyed in the past, you might enjoy these things, too. So, in order to avoid placing myself in any authoritarian role, I have developed a list of completely subjective experiences meant only as a reflection of my year, and nothing more. Here they are, with nothing to do with you. My moments that mattered. The Top Nine Interactions I Had with a Cat this Year Parking Lot Cat - “Impressions” // Parking Lot Cat’s first (furrrrrst?) outing is arguably his best. The rawness that would come to define Parking Lot Cat on full, brash display in contrast to the apartment building’s stuffy laundry room. Sophie - “Repose” // With “Repose,” she moved from being just another cat who liked to be pet underneath chairs of the kitchen table, to one who was unafraid to jump on a bed, crawl into a lap, and say “I would like to be adored now.” Stranger Cat - “In Your Face” // A soulful mixture of wanting to be pet, and desiring to rub his face on every fiber of my being, Stanger Cat took his party to your body. In mostly good ways, if but occasionally over-eager. Sophie - “Touch” // Sophie stunned all with her decision to allow my friend to pet her. A “surprisingly intimate,” collection from everyone’s favorite Turkish Angora. Parking Lot Cat - “The Company of Others” // The four cats behind my apartment complex who mostly hang out underneath cars were out in full force. Or is that fur force? Or maybe, full furce? Or maybe… god. I don’t know anymore. Street Cat - “Dancing Shoes” // Street Cat’s hotly contested debut rubbed some the wrong way by simply rubbing some people who would rather not be rubbed at all by a dirty, adorable Street Cat. But if you’re up for it, the rub is gentle and soothing. And his legs had white tips like he was wearing knee high boots! Sasha - “Cat Out of Hell” // That bitch of a cat Sasha just sat in the hall growling at me and ran away when I even looked at her. Toothless - “Television and Toy String” // This cat’s inclusion is notable not only for being the youngest artist on this list, but for her demonstrated ability to cross genres and impress even dog lovers. Full of enthusiasm and charm, Toothless should be a cat in the hearts of many for years to come. The Catfe - “Sadness and Disappointment” // While this ramshackle band of cats was really more of a vacant space in the strip mall within China Town with some cages and people wearing fuzzy cat ear headbands, it spoke to the gaping emptiness inside us all. With everything about it slightly off, this experience defied logic, convention, and proved that the Los Angeles Times is willing to lie and print whatever, so long as it means it doesn’t have to send a reporter to a sketchy, nearempty room at the back of China Town.
A Q&A WITH DYLAN WRIGHT by cassandra baim
A few weeks ago, I was sent a link to Dylan Wright’s music video “Iron Gates.” I was immediately enamored of the soft and poignant melody, and the morbid (but no less intriguing!) turn the video takes at the end (not to mention getting to see some beachscapes from my home city in beautiful sepia tones) and I thought “I MUST talk to this genius!” Over an email exchange, Dylan and I chat about making music—everything from his artistic inspiration to playing in his adopted city, Chicago to his other projects. I’ve been listening to his entire record (and you can too, right here -- http://dylananderson.bandcamp.com/ album/as-a-ghost) and I lose myself over and over again in his delicate sincerity. As an artist, he’s humble and earnest, and I can’t wait to see what he does next! Cassandra: What was your inspiration to start making music? Dylan: I think the first inkling I got that maybe I wanted to write my own music was when I listened to Neutral Milk Hotel’s album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea for the first time. I was 15 and a freshman in high school, so I was just getting out of my pop-punk middle school phase and really discovering music on my own for the first time. They were unlike anything I’d ever heard before, and the way Jeff Magnum sings so vulnerably with so much power behind it was really inspiring to me. I didn’t start writing my own stuff until about 5 years after that, but they were the first push in the right direction. Cassandra: Who are your most prominent artistic influences? Dylan: I’d say the artists I’m inspired by the most are the ones who are constantly experimenting with their sound and pushing boundaries within their music, while still maintaining their own “truth” and vulnerability. Sufjan Stevens has always been a favorite of mine, because he’s not afraid to really explore all sides of himself. He went from his somber folk album Seven Swans to the dark, electronic, schizophrenic-like album Age of Adz six years later. Sonically, they sound very different and have completely different arrangements, but you can still tell its Sufjan. Perfume Genius has been another huge inspiration for me the past year. I’ve loved watching his growth from his first two albums, to his latest one Too Bright. He also maintains a sense of humor about himself which I really enjoy, and he’s such a captivating performer. Cassandra: I’m from Chicago, so I always love to talk to transplants. How do you feel about the city? Do you find it to be a welcoming environment for you and your music? Dylan: I love Chicago! I’ve been here for about five years now and its one of the best decisions I ever made for myself after growing up in a small, conservative suburb in Indiana. There is a great community of artists here, and everyone is so welcoming and supportive. This was my first time releasing any of my own material, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of all of my music friends here that have done this kind of thing before.
Cassandra: What’s the most rewarding part about making music? Dylan: Getting interview for The Miscreant. And I guess connecting with people I don’t know, and feeling like I get to reciprocate what music has done for me, back out to other people. That’s a cool feeling.
Cassandra: What are the greatest challenges you’ve faced as a musician? Dylan: Being aggressive about promoting myself. I’m a fairly shy and introverted person, so pushing my music out through social media and constantly reminding people about things I’ve released, upcoming shows, etc. was a little scary at first. But I’ve gotten used to it more now and realize it’s such an important part of the process. If I’m not confident or excited about my own music, then why should anyone else be? Cassandra: Where did the idea for your “Iron Gates” video come from? Dylan: I actually had almost no part in the making of that video! It was directed by a friend of mine from high school, Barton Robison, who has been following my music for a while and we’ve always wanted to collaborate on something. When I told him I was thinking about making a music video for “Iron Gates,” he asked to take it over. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona so he would send me little screen shots about what was going on, but I was mostly kept in the dark about it. I loved the idea of leaving it up to another artist (that I trust) to interpret a story for themselves without my influence. I actually did the same thing for my album cover and am so happy with the end result. Cassandra: Your Bandcamp page has queer and gay tagged next to more “standard” tags like folk and acoustic. If you had to assign a genre to your music, what would it be? Dylan: Queer-folk (for now). Not that my sexuality completely 100% defines who I am as an artist, or everything I write about, but I want to be easy to find for other queer kids out there looking for someone to connect with. Growing up, I felt like I was always searching for that kind of person to connect with, and I always had a ton of respect for artists like Rufus Wainwright who were so open about their sexuality in their lyrics. Cassandra: If you could collaborate with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be? Dylan: Oh god. If I can only pick one, I have to go with Sufjan Stevens. But if I’m living in my dream world where there are no rules, I’d love to get Perfume Genius, Grimes, and Majical Cloudz all in the same room together. It’d probably be the strangest song ever, but I’d love to be a part of that think-tank and see what the hell goes on in their brains. Cassandra: Where to from here--any plans to tour or future releases? Dylan: No definite plans on a tour quite yet, but hopefully something this spring or summer! I’ve also got another music video in the works that should be released within the next couple months. And I just started playing in a duo called Talk Boy that’s kind of an eclectic combination of electronic and folk music. We just released our first song “Queen To Be” that was a re-work of a song from my record. I’m just excited to keep writing my own stuff and explore a different side of myself with that project as well!
MAKING A LIST; NOT CHECKING IT TWICE; TAKE THAT SANTA by jeremy garber
For the first time since I started writing them (in high school), I was not excited to put together a “top albums of the year” list this year. It had nothing to do with how music impacted me over the past 12 months; I thought I finally reached the point in my life where I didn’t care to compare records that mattered deeply to me, weighing the artistic choices of the performers, evaluating their intentions and ranking them against each other. It seemed selfish. Let me first say that I have the utmost respect for music journalists; I, myself have had the fortune of writing for a number of amazing publications and completely understand the human infatuation with labeling music, comparing it to sonically similar work and “judging” it accordingly. To be able to turn words on a page into a new fan (or many!) for a deserving artist is absolutely incredible. I soon realized I was more at conflict personally with how I had been handling my end of year lists. In years past, I often made conscious (seemingly unconscious at the time) decisions to make my lists “different” with obscure, challenging, harsh music. To an extent, I look back at those choices with quiet fondness and nostalgia for how I felt; I was embittered with personal relationship struggles and playing in a band where we judged if a show was successful or not based on how many people got hurt during our set. Those times were pure and I don’t regret a thing but I’m beginning to think much of my motivation was about purposefully isolating myself. I wanted people to feel left out when I posted my list(s). Wow, this just got real. As far as my 2014 top albums list goes, my only criteria this year: what moved me. It sounds stupidly simple but having overlooked this in previous years to ensure the confusion of 90% of my peers, I no longer care about persuading my personal tastes to reflect seclusion. Sure, a few
of my choices are still extremely dissonant (and therefore polarizing), but the difference is those records have had an emotional impact on me that’s a bit more complex than simply subduing, and simultaneously fueling, anger. Let’s get a little more specific. Since being recommended to me quite recently, I’ve been spinning Xerxes’ Collision Blonde quite frequently. It only came out in October but immediately resonated with me in ways that reminded me of MeWithoutYou’s first couple of LPs. Lush, reverb-soaked guitars with spoken word vocals building to defeated, shouted vocals cracking with emotion. Beautiful yet desolate and heart wrenching. I felt transported to the times I was standing outside venues in -10 degree weather in Syracuse, NY waiting to get into some VFW Hall to see a hardcore show and feeling a sense of community I’ll never forget. Those memories being recalled so vividly were enough for me to include Collision Blonde on my list. On a completely different note, this year I found myself drawn to Kimbra’s The Golden Echo. Let me also be clear that this is the first major label pop release that came out in my lifetime that I’ve felt this passionately about. Not knowing much about Kimbra, other than she sang on that Gotye song I quite honestly couldn’t stand, this album completely took me off guard and made me realize I shouldn’t be as harsh to judge an artist’s output (especially a guest spot), without bothering to learn about the bigger picture. To me, The Golden Echo demonstrates that Kimbra has such a fundamental appreciation of music; her talent is chameleonic, adapting tastefully and genuinely to any production style. This record makes me want to thank my mom for dragging me to all those Broadway shows as a kid, as I appreciate the theatricality of it, but also see that Kimbra isn’t trying to “put on a show” to distract from the strength of the songwriting. She doesn’t need to. It feels good to be able to talk about this. Lastly, I need to bring up a collaborative release that absolutely destroyed me: The Body’s record with The Haxan Cloak, I Shall Die Here. I’m reminded of a Twentieth-Century Art Music class I took where there was an argument over the manipulation of sound and intention. I was of a minority who thought that Milton Babbitt’s early computer music had emotional value, though it was randomly generated and largely an experiment in technology. Though both The Haxan Cloak and The Body clearly did have control of the sound design and composition of the absolutely claustrophobic I Shall Die Here, I’ve been thinking of that particular debate because their creation is something truly necessary, harrowing, indicative of our world yet bound to be misunderstood. Hidden under the shroud of morbidity is a statement of truth: you shouldn’t exhibit hate as a default towards what you don’t understand. On that amazingly profound note (yeah, right), I’m ready to go into 2015 with an open mind and am excited to be inspired by leaping outside of my comfort zone even further than before.
2014: A PRETTY DAMN GOOD YEAR FOR MUSIC by olivia cellamare
It’s that time of year where everyone takes to Social Media to announce that they are “SO DONE WITH 2014.” That 2015 is definitely going to be THEIR year. They do it every year. You roll your eyes and think, “Did you even listen to *insert record* at all? This year did not suck.” But hey, not everyone is motivated by music. As someone who really is, I’m going to list some reasons as to why this year was pretty damn good for music. From a totally selfish point of view. The Jesus And Mary Chain // My music collection does pretty much revolve around a band I never thought I would ever see alive. A record that easily changed my life. A record that I compare most things to. This year I saw them twice. Twice I was left partially deaf for a few days because
it was so beautifully loud. I was in a sea of middle-aged men sipping overpriced beer, clinging onto their buddies with their wives looking on thinking, “Well..it gets him out the house but tomorrow he is fixing that bloody door!” It was absolutely wonderful. Also, older people at gigs are brilliant because they don’t get their phones out and record the whole thing. They just sing and flail. My kind of people. I never ever thought I would see my favourite band of all time play my favourite record of all time from start to finish. That is why 2014 did not suck. Morrissey // The love of my life (well, one of.) The one person who can unleash how I feel without me even having to try. Aside from Tina Belcher, Morrissey really understands me. World Peace Is None Of Your Business was not only one of the best named records of the year, it was also one of the finest things to happen to music this year. His dramatic sound and witty lines made us Moz fans proud and happy he was back. He’s a man that is hated by those who don’t understand him. They regard him as miserable but they’ve never paid attention to his lyrics. With health scares circulating, it was bloody good to see him tour and pretty much shove a middle finger up at those who doubt his genius. Harry Styles // Alright so their music isn’t to everyone’s taste (Four is a pretty good record, good on ‘em) but we need to talk about Harry’s glorious hair. Hair that is evidently guarded by angels at night time. Or maybe he just wears a hair net. He’d probably look alright wearing that too, the little shit. I love him. Not in a pre-teen kind of way. In a he’d be a really good pal kind of way. I love his long hair, and I hope he never ever tames his curls. They are wild and free, bloody beautiful. He didn’t cut his hair did he this year? That’s alright by me! Crocodiles // If I can’t write about my pals in a biased way, then what is the point? This year I saw Crocodiles melt the faces off residents of London several times. Their show in Bedford over Bank Holiday was one of my favourites. These guys play small and sweaty places, places they are meant to be heard. Those that go to see them really love them. They yell the words back and aren’t afraid to leap on stage with them. If you want a real good time, go to a Crocodiles show. Charlie will make you wish you could play guitar and Brandon will make you wish you had the guts to be a singer. D’Angelo // After waiting 14 years, the King of Soul finally came back with a surprise record. I remember buying Voodoo 14 years ago and just being in awe of his voice. There is no denying that D’Angelo has one of the most beautiful voices ever. Black Messiah is political and romantic in all the right places. D’Angelo released Black Messiah at a time where everyone needed to unite with each other, and music is such a powerful tool. This surprise release is easily the best record of the year, and to have D’Angelo back was way overdue.
Dum Dum Girls // At the start of the year DDG released Too True. I still play it daily and the blue Loser Edition vinyl is lovely to stare at as it spins round and round. Their show at the Scala this year (Crocodiles supported) was one of my favourite shows of the year also. When a record is released so early on, it is easy for it to be overlooked/forgotten about by as early as Summer, but Too True had something about it that made it impossible to ignore. Dee Dee’s voice has never sounded so strong, and so good. I also interviewed her in the toilets at the Scala which was bizarre but easily one of the best things I’ve ever done. BANKS // BANKS finally released her debut record this year. She portrayed all stages of love and relationships in a way we wish we could. She wasn’t afraid to show it all, in all its beauty and ugliness. I obsessed over Beggin’ For Thread this Summer. I couldn’t bring myself to listen to Someone New for fear of crying like a baby. Her song-writing skills make you feel as if you are going through it, she really puts you in the song. That is what makes a strong and phenomenal song-writer. The Weeknd and BANKS have taken R&B where it needs to be. They’ve taken what Aaliyah did and created something truly magical and inspiring. John Lydon // Anger Is An Energy is probably the best autobiography (by a musician) to have been written. John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) was deemed as a threat to some back in the 70s, but only by those who missed the point of what he was doing. His bravery from childhood into adulthood is inspiring. By reading his book I learnt so much about him and it just made me respect him even more. He didn’t have an easy life, but he’s a fighter. A proper fighter who never backed down. I got into the Sex Pistols pretty late, I always favoured PiL instead but John Lydon is a brilliant and charismatic frontman, he could sing the phonebook in an Operatic style and I’d probably still enjoy it. Reading the meaning behind the line, “Anger is an energy” made me appreciate the song “Rise” even more, and love that lyric more than I do. It is so powerful, and so important. Band Practice // SORRY JW BUT THIS IS HAPPENING. You’ve all heard Band Practice’s record haven’t you? It’s amazing, and us Miscreants are so so proud of JW and Ben. Again, another band that fully back my theory that duos are bloody great. Make Nice is for underdogs and for those who just want to play their music loud, and dance like Tina Belcher. Or maybe Gene. Or both. Their lyrics spark up hearts, widen eyes and ease insecurities. A truly, truly wonderful record that I will happily praise to anybody who will listen.
2:54 // 2:54 make the kind of music I wish I could. Creepy yet ethereal. Hannah’s heavy guitar sounds, Alex’s intense drumming and Colette’s delicate vocals. They remind me of Sleep, Garbage and Patti Smith. Basically, everything I love about music is in their sound. I finally saw them live this year (twice in a church and one surprise acoustic set.) Their second record, The Other I was released 2 days before my birthday and it’s on constant repeat. Hannah and Colette are two of the most sincere and lovely people I’ve ever met, and their live shows are something else. It feels really intimate and private, but not in a snooping sense. You feel like you have fallen heart first into a scared world that you never want to leave. A dark and eerie underworld that is comforting and heavenly. They’re a band that I will never get tired of listening to and writing about, easily.
GETTING TO KNOW: JACK + ELIZA by mary luncsford
Jack + Eliza are two college sophomores from New York making some of the dreamiest pop out there. Their debut EP, No Wonders is sure to give you flashbacks of summer and warmer weather (just in time for the frigid grasp of winter!!) Below Jack and Eliza talk dream collabs, gigs gone slightly awry and the process of creating No Wonders. Mary: You guys are sophomores in college, right? Do you find it difficult to balance school and music—especially since your EP has been getting so much buzz? Jack: Balancing school and music has certainly become more difficult recently, but it seems manageable for the time being. It’s pretty awesome to do what I love while simultaneously learning from some of the smartest people I’ve ever met. Eliza: It’s definitely a lot of work but not too much to handle (well, it can be at times). I love school and music and don’t want to sacrifice one for the other. People can do both! My schoolwork informs my music and vice versa. Mary: You’ve been making music together for a while now. Do you have the songwriting process down to a science/what does that process look like? Eliza: We do almost everything in collaboration. Jack: Occasionally one of us will bring in a little something-something but the songwriting process for us is always a real joint effort. Mary: I’ve read that you’re really inspired by 60s music, and No Wonders definitely reflects that. What is it about that time in music that draws you to it? Jack: We love the chord progressions and the production techniques from the 60s. Motown and the Beatles were writing pop music that was reasonably complex theory-wise, yet so damn catchy! Eliza: It’s definitely challenging to find equilibrium between complexity and catchiness but when you do it’s the best, and that’s become something we try to take on while writing. Jack: We also do listen to a fair share of current bands, like Grizzly Bear, Tame Impala, Allah-
lahs, St. Vincent, the xx, Mac De Marco, Dev Hynes etc. Mary: Speaking of No Wonders, what was it like to work with producer Chris Zane? Jack: Chris Zane was amazing to work with. For No Wonders, we both wanted to capture what we had already conceived prior to entering the studio, and we both feel Chris did that very well. Eliza: His attention to volume, sound, and layering really contributed the feel of the EP. Mary: Do you have a best or weirdest gig story yet? If so, details please! Jack: A couple months ago, we played at gig at a cool venue called Palisades in Brooklyn. We learned that night that our chromatic tuners needed to be re-calibrated during the show. Our guitars and vocals must’ve been a half step off from one another the entire time. Let’s just say that we still constantly apologize to all that were present for that show. Eliza: Really, we are truly sorry. Mary: What are you guys currently listening to? Jack: I’ve been listening to a lot of Elvis these days—geeking out on his guitar playing and of course his stunning vocal recordings, as well. Eliza: I’ve been listening to a lot of Roy Orbison. I’m also very into William Onyeabor and the Lidjadu Sisters right now Mary: If you could perform with any musician/band (living or dead) who would it be and why? Jack: I’d love to enter Tame Impala’s world. That music just seems like so much fun to jam out to onstage. We just saw them perform at the Beacon Theatre and it was cathartic to say the least. Eliza: I’d love to have played with the Velvet Underground. Their music has a very collaborative feel. I feel like I might not feel like an outsider if I were to sit in with them. Their music feels inclusive, welcoming, but also extremely personal and intimate, if that makes sense? Mary: Your EP has gotten so much positive feedback; what has been the craziest/most surreal part of the ~journey~ so far? Jack: It feels surreal and amazing whenever something you have created gets some sort of validation. Eliza: We’re just thrilled that people are liking what we’re doing. It only makes us more excited to keep writing. You can listen to No Wonders here: http://open.spotify.com/album/2N6RLmFmH93y2GNns8O4FL
A NEW YEAR’S PLAYLIST IN 3 PARTS by laura lyons
Many of us celebrate the completion of Earth’s orbit around the sun with glitter, champagne, and reckless abandon (maybe you don’t do it this way, and that’s totally cool, but you should consider it). It is a designated night to carpe that one last diem, dance your ass off, and look damn good doing it. Needless to say, the role of DJ and vibe-guru for the transition from old to new comes with great power and great responsibility. You have to get people’s blood flowin’, let them unabashedly break out their sexiest and/ or most embarrassing dance moves, and then nurse a mean hangover on New Year’s Day. There are many ways to achieve this; this is how I do it. Slip a few of these tracks into your playlists and cue glass clinking, booty shaking, and a well-deserved late start to 2015.
New Year’s Eve!
Crank that shit up. Time to get these people moving. Sango – “Maluco” // My favorite song from Sango’s incredible Brazilian baile-influenced EP starts any night off right. Don’t you know you drive me crazy? Sylvan Esso – “H.S.K.T.” // A cheeky rework of the original ‘get yr body in it’ rhyme. Flight Facilities – “Crave You” // Sweet, and a little mischevious. James Brown – “I Feel Good (El. Train Remix)” // Let ‘em know early. Seinabo Sey – “Younger (Kygo Remix)” // OK, so maybe every Kygo song sounds the same. But it’s a fun, bubbly, bright same that also happens to be thematically appropriate here. Caribou – “Can’t Do Without You” // “Everybody loves Caribou!” – the internet Tunji Ige – “Day2Day” // Starts smooth as hell with a killer hook and picks up the pace halfway
through – one of the slickest tracks from an excellent late 2014 debut. The Weeknd – “Wanderlust (Snakehips Remix)” // A party playlist staple. Le Youth – “C O O L (DJ Sliink Remix)” // You know that feeling when you expect a song to go one direction, but it goes somewhere completely different that’s so much better?
Is It Still New Year’s Eve?!? (Late Night)
Let’s get real, there comes a point in the night when everyone sheds their inhibitions and is ready to turn the fuck up. This is commonly referred to as “when the party really got good”: Beyonce – “Yonce”// Cause it feels good to act bad. Play it through Partition. Honestly, if it’s late enough play it through the whole damn album. Ladies, tell em. Disclosure – “You & Me (Flume Remix)”// The midnight ball drop is overrated. This drop isn’t. R. Kelly – “Ignition (Remix)” // The people want to hear Ignition right now. Trust me. Theophilus London ft. A$AP Rocky – “Big Spender” // Who doesn’t wanna feel like a big spender on New Year’s, even if you’re sippin’ on Andre? Bonus: this song contains many opportune moments for winking. Danny Brown – “Dip” // This one’s a given. Don’t let me into my zone. Young Thug – “Danny Glover”// There’s just no way I’m not playing this on New Year’s.
… New Year’s Day
Get yourself a cup (or bowl) of green tea, set the volume to 50%, and curl up with your boo, pup, or pillow. It’s all good. Shlohmo – “It Was Whatever” // Chirping birds and chill vibes set the tone for 2015. Miguel– every song on the new EP // Because it is perfect. St. Vincent – “I Prefer Your Love” // Pure, loving healing. Jordan Rakei – “Street Light” // Food for the soul, food for the soul. Lo-Fang – “You’re The One That I Want” // “Is this from Grease?” Yes. Soak it in. Bjork – “I Remember You” // Airy, beautiful harp backs a wistful love song from another era. Tei Shi – “Adder(f)all” // Artfully layered chorus of angels has your back. MoonLasso – “Vibrasonics” // A sugary melody that’s just enough to bring you back to life. Phony Ppl – “If This is How Love Feels” // THE ultimate cuddle anthem. Ryan Hemsworth – “Blemish” // This song feels like slow-drip coffee. XXYYXX – “Closer” // This whole album is my remedy – from insane hangovers to feeling like my world is spinning out of control, this always brings me back to earth. Switzerland – “Daughter” // The sonic embodiment of a perfect winter day. Kweku Collins – “Lonely Lullabies” // Newcomer from Chicago weaves a sweet, sad melody over and through a sample of “Youth” by Daughter. Jelani Blackman – “Twenty//Three” // Dark, moody slow jam at its finest. iLoveMakkonen ft. Ezra Koenig and Despot - “Down 4 So Long” // I can’t describe how thankful I am that this even exists.
HOME IS WHERE YOUR WALKMAN IS by kyle kuchta
Home for me was a small town full of people I didn’t really care for. Though I suppose when you go through school, K-12, only making a handful of friends, your interest in the people who weave in and out of your life dwindles. If you have the opportunity to move on from this town that feels cramped, you take it. Or, I took it. I took the chance to go to a school far (enough) away from my little Connecticut town and give myself a fresh start. While Syracuse, NY was where I’d spend the better part of four years, the rest of that time would be spent back at “home.” Home felt different then. It felt more like a staging area where I’d prepare for the upcoming Fall; the start of the next year where I’d continue finding out who I was/am. Syracuse was my job while Connecticut was still my home. Home, for me, was full of people who had always lived in that town, families remaining in the same place for generations. My family was no exception. A set of my great-grandparents were Niantic-folk, and I think even their folks were from this town. Families never really seem to leave. There’s something magnetic, something comfortable that keeps people rooted there. Even when my parents divorced, they both stayed, my mother just moved a mile away to the opposite end of town. It always bothered me that people stayed. I had always thought they were settling. Home was where I went 21 years of my life surrounded by water and never learned to swim. Home was where I stood waiting for the school bus, listening to Marilyn Manson’s “I Want to Disappear” on repeat on my walkman. I didn’t connect with a lot of people. I don’t think I really allowed myself to. It probably happens to a lot of people, but a year out of college/a year away from where I grew up and I realized that what I considered home would no longer be “home.” I kept trying to figure out excuses or exclusions so I could still call Niantic home, but there just aren’t any. In my personal history, it will only be home for the first part of my story. It’s damn near impossible to describe the feeling that came over me when I made this realization. It was a mess of different things, with a clear lack of comprehension. I felt anxiety, sadness, anger, mourning. I felt accomplished, free, excited. I felt like I jumped out of the plane, realized I didn’t have a parachute, prepared myself for impact by thinking, right before I hit the ground, “Well, I live here now. Home.” I think part of the terrible empty feeling comes from currently living in Los Angeles, where almost everyone I meet is a transplant. Much like how I felt Syracuse was my “job,” LA now feels the same. But this time, I won’t be back for Thanksgiving. Sounds like the tagline to an awful straight-to-VOD horror comedy (that most certainly lacks in both categories), but I’m not “coming home” anymore, despite my family reassuring me that “this will always be your home.” The poetics of “home is where the heart is,” “home is where you are,” etc., is sweet but it doesn’t stick.
There’s a sense of homelessness that has become a part of my being this past year. And I know I’m using the word “homelessness,” and I don’t want to confuse this with those who are living in poverty or those who are literally without shelter. I just feel an emotional emptiness that is best described as “homelessness.” I wrote all of this a few months ago. It is now December 23rd, the day before Christmas Eve. I’m in Connecticut and will spend the holiday tomorrow and the next day with my family in the houses that were once “home.” The fear, anxiety and confusion that I was feeling when I wrote those words months ago is still present, however being “without a home” has taken a backseat. Like, way backseat. Back-of-the-bus backseat. It’s a patch on the patchwork quilt of 2014. I can’t explain why those words found themselves onto a page, or why I felt it necessary to entertain my internal struggle. But I did, and it’s here, and it would be some waste if no one ever talked about their fears, wouldn’t it?
comic by joel jensen heath editors note: joel emailed me and said, â€œthe comic references the 80s cult japanese noise band Les Rellizes Denudes.â€? hell yeah.
I HEARD THAT SONG AGAIN BUT DIDN’T THINK OF YOU THIS TIME by david kramer
Our song played first on shuffle this morning. It was as if I was supposed to hear it before I heard anything else today, like it needed to be my first. But a weird thing happened this time. It wasn’t like the other times. I didn’t think about you. Not even once, not even a little bit. I’ve played it since you left. I played it while you were leaving. I played it before you realized what was happening, but after I figured it out. Of course I thought about you every time. How could I not? A month ago I played it again, and thought about you the whole time. Each word was about you, and each line described us. The chorus was the soundtrack to your movie. I listened to it two weeks ago and couldn’t stop picturing you in my mind. You danced around in my head to the rhythm, perfectly as always. But when it came on this morning, it was completely different. You didn’t cross my mind once. I didn’t think of how you softly sang along to the words, loud enough so I could hear you but quiet enough so I couldn’t tell if you really knew the words. I didn’t see the bottom of your dress swinging from side to side as you danced along. Not once did I wish that one of my earbuds was in your ear. Never did it cross my mind that you could be hearing it too. I thought only of myself.
2014: KEYMASTERS TO OUR HEARTS by morgan schaffner & rachel corson
1. St. Vincent – St. Vincent What is there to say about Annie Clark that hasn’t already been said? 2014 was her year, hands down! She reinvented herself and her sound and people took notice on this marvelous self-titled fourth release. Not to mention her unique, demanding presence—a certain calculated angular tension where you can’t help but admire how lovely it pairs with her bad-ass guitar playing. She’s described the intent of this record as, “a party record that you could play at a funeral,” and we couldn’t agree more. 2. Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso Ah! Be still my heart. This record’s combination of folky electro-pop is just too addictive to really articulate. Meath’s rootsy falsetto dances and skips over Sanborn’s intuitive and structured beats. With the song “Coffee” reeling us in and proving to be the soundtrack of our SXSW trip this year, others like “Wolf” continue to howl into your subconscious long after the record has ended. And with “Hey Mami,” who doesn’t love a song that demands cat callers to own up to the shit they spout? 3. Mitski – Bury Me at Makeout Creek As we and everyone else (Rolling Stone now included) like to sing from rooftops – THIS RECORD IS GREAT. It’s an incredibly intimate record by this Brooklyn-local and hones in on what we can’t seem to get enough these days, the teetering balance between vulnerability and raw chaos. Listen to “Drunk Walk Home” to see what we mean. And then don’t even get me started on the sharp lyrics that she pens. “I want a love that falls as fast as a body from the balcony / I wanna kiss like my heart is hitting the ground” has become our anthem of these cold winter months. 4. The Preatures – Blue Planet Eyes This is one of those bands that we are always stoked to see what they’ll release next. These Australians take a fresh approach at 80s-nostalgia-hued-indie-rock and just totally kick ass. Lead singer Isabella Manfredi is a force in of herself to be reckoned with; powerfully delicate yet strong vocals with an intense gaze that could cut through dry ice. With a track list that doesn’t miss a beat, “Is This How You Feel” has undeniably become one of our favorite songs of the year.
5. Alvvays – Alvvays 60’s girl group inspired with fuzzed-out, jangly guitars that make me want to sway back and forth in love. Seriously though, every song on this record not only clever but also sticky sweet in a comforting cinnamon bun kind of way. From “Marry, Me Archie” to “Party Police” hopefully you’ll get put into the same lightheaded-swooning-on-a-mid-summer-day trance that happened to us. 6. Eternal Summers – The Drop Beneath With a suitcase full of pedals, the swooping shoegaze/pop melodies coming out of Nicole Yun’s guitar, pair impeccably with her wispy voice and poetic lyrics. While we have a common thread with Yun, as we were all college radio music directors at WXJM at differing times, the guys in the band help deliver the record‘s new wavey grit. Daniel Cundiff’s visceral drumming and Jonathan Woods’ bobbing bass lines create a seamless sound coupled with Yun’s bold melodies that continue to captivate to the core. 7. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There Everything about Are We There echoes in our hearts until it shakes and shatters the soul. After listening to this album we both had to take a step, check our pulses, to come back down to reality. Sharon Van Etten has a melancholy way with words that we’ve known that since her first release, but there’s something otherworldly about this one. Behind her voice, perfectly soft guitar, and piano frame titles from the record such as, “Your Love Is Killing Me,” “I Love You But I’m Lost,” and “Break Me” that bring you to that familiar dark place we’ve all been to. 8. Ex-Hex – Rips Ex-Hex are DC power post-punk vets whose debut record exudes the riot grrrl attitude that originated in our nation’s capital in the first place. Guitarist Mary Timony’s playing leads to wanting nothing more than to air guitar with her and sing all the “whoa-oh-ohs” in “Radio On” at the top of our lungs. With such a fierce and lean record, the trio is a breath of fresh air in terms of punk releases this year. Melodic deliveries, riffy guitars, and a general contagious listen, start with “Hot and Cold” and go from there. 9. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness Burn Your Fire For No Witness is another album that burrowed deep in our hearts and has yet to budge. Just like a roller coaster Angel Olsen brings you up just as quickly as she crashes back down. Her twangy folky style is so mesmerizing that you’ll get lost in the song, until you realize you’re singing lyrics like “I need advice it’s true, but I won’t hear it from you I don’t remember when you last cared for the things I did” and then you just may well-up emotionally in tears like we did. With minimalist acoustic whispers to full on steady ballads, it’s a record worth getting on for the ride and getting taken away. 10. Girlpool – Girlpool Come on, these girls aren’t even legal and can make music that both sonically and lyrically gets me fired up. With only a bass and guitar, the girls somehow manage to have a sound that is as much Simon & Garfunkel as it is Bikini Kill. These L.A. ladies aren’t afraid to go there, singing about boys being assholes all the while effortlessly harmonizing on every note. With lyrics like, “do you want to make out, I heard you have a slut mouth, from the boy down the street, baby please” and “it’s not enough to watch a movie, eat me out to American Beauty,” Girlpool is the pouting, moody, sarcastic punch in the face that we all need to deliver sometimes.
featuring Celestial Shore!