Sunday, February 26, 2017

Listening Habits 01-02.2017

In recent weeks we took a trip 30 and 40 years back, remembering  just a few of the great albums and songs released in 1987 and 1977 respectively, two years full of exceptional, groundbreaking music.

As we reach the end of February, it's time to return to the present and take stock of what's going on in the first couple of months of 2017.

The first great album of the New Year came at the tail-end of 2016 and it's the third and most potent installment of the collaboration between El-P and Killer Mike as Run The Jewels. By now you know exactly what to expect when these two come together but there is no way to resists the sheer excitement and wild joy of their aggressive beats and witty raps. "Run The Jewels 3" is the ideal battle hymn of resistance against the current insane social and political situation of America and, of course, the rest of the world.

One might expect that a similar reaction would also be forthcoming in the rock world as well, that at least a resurgence of punk rock would be on the horizon by now. No such luck so far, no new Sex Pistols or anything radical like that, but at least we got some seriously heavy riffs and some great pop hooks in the new records by Ty Segall, Japandroids and Cloud Nothings.

Segall's ninth album is his second self-titled release, perhaps his way of reintroducing himself with a record that encompasses a little bit of everything he's been doing over the ten prolific years he's been recording music. Garage rock and psych pop gems come fast and furious over the record's 36-minutes, concisely presenting what makes Ty Segall one of the best rock 'n' rollers of the current generation.

We have certainly missed Japandroids in the five years since their last record, the excellent "Celebration Rock", and we are certainly glad that they are back with "Near To The Wild Heart Of Life", their third full-length effort. The new record doesn't present any sharp turns in their trajectory, but the power and simplicity of their music is still doing a fine job in generating anthemic, memorable songs that will work just as well in the sweaty surroundings of a rock club or as the soundtrack to a drive down a motorway.

Cloud Nothings' "Life Without Sound", their most melodic offering so far, but still full of buzzing, powerful guitar sounds, Austra's "Future Politics", a fine electropop effort combining catchy tunes and thoughtful lyrics and the return of The Flaming Lips with the idiosyncratic, psychedelic pop of "Oczy Mlody" complete the top half of our first Listening Habits album chart of 2017. In the rest of the Top 12 you will find a few more releases from last year that we think deserve a place in 2016's "Best of" and two great compilations that you should definitely lend an ear to, one with selections of some of 2016's best releases according to Rough Trade Shops and one with great cuts from the UK indie scene of 1987 (see more about C87 here):

Top 12 Albums

1.  Run The Jewels 3 - RUN THE JEWELS
2.  Ty Segall - TY SEGALL
3.  Near To The Wild Heart Of Life - JAPANDROIDS
4.  Life Without Sound - CLOUD NOTHINGS
5.  Future Politics - AUSTRA
6.  Oczy Mlody - THE FLAMING LIPS
7.  Mirage - JOSEFIN ÖHRN & THE LIBERATION
8.  Puberty 2 - MITSKI
9.  I Had A Dream That You Were Mine - HAMILTON LEITHAUSER + ROSTAM
10. Preoccupations - PREOCCUPATIONS   
11. Rough Trade Counter Culture 2016 - VARIOUS ARTISTS
12. C87 - VARIOUS ARTISTS

Top 12 Tracks

1.  Sister Green Eyes - JOSEFIN ÖHRN & THE LIBERATION
2.  Country Sleaze - GOAT GIRL
3.  Legend Has It - RUN THE JEWELS
4.  Thank You Mr K - TY SEGALL
5.  Near to the Wild Heart of Life - JAPANDROIDS
6.  Things Are Right with You - CLOUD NOTHINGS
7.  Degraded - PREOCCUPATIONS
8.  Future Politics - AUSTRA
9.  One Night While Hunting for Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill - THE FLAMING LIPS
10. My Body's Made of Crushed Little Stars - MITSKI
11. A 1000 Times - HAMILTON LEITHAUSER + ROSTAM
12. New Ways - CC DUST

Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation - Sister Green Eyes

Ty Segall - Thank You Mr. K


Sunday, February 19, 2017

The 7s, part 3: US 1987

Some of our all-time favorite albums were released in years ending in 7. As we are waiting to see what 2017 has in store for us, we have already revisited the great punk rock debuts of 1977 and looked for obscure UK indie gems in Cherry Red's C87 compilation.

For the third installment of this series we are returning to 1987, but this time we are selecting tracks from 5 seminal albums that defined the '80s US alt. rock scene and greatly influenced what was to come in the next few years leading up to the grunge explosion that shook up the mainstream of the early '90s. Here is our US alternative rock Top 5 of 1987:

1. Songs About Fucking - BIG BLACK

Bad Penny

2. Sister - SONIC YOUTH


Schizophrenia

3. Warehouse: Songs and Stories - HÜSKER DÜ


Ice Cold Ice

4. Document - R.E.M.


The One I Love

5. Mirage - MEAT PUPPETS



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