About Us


There is a good chance you found us accidentally by using the word “taint” in your search (If you found us on purpose, you deserve our accolades). Of course we don’t know what you were looking for, but you stumbled on a damn cool project. Look around; let us help send you on a musical journey. Here you will find a number of album reviews from the strange and extreme to the tame and mainstream. Our reviewers are a bunch of obsessive miscreants. Most of us are avid music collectors and have been involved in the music world for decades. A couple of us have been in or are still in bands.

There are no rules on Tickle Your Taint Blog. Our reviewers might make you laugh, or piss you off; both results are legitimate. One reviewer might write a glowing review of an album another might tear it apart. We may end up adopting a single review system, such as five stars, or each reviewer may use his own or none at all. We may have a new review every week or we could end up with one every six months. This blog exists as a social experiment to build community among a diverse group of music maniacs – our reviewers and hopefully you. Pull down your knickers, lube up and join us in tickling yours and our taints.

If you are in a band, have released a physical (rather than an MP3) CD or record, and would like us to review your efforts, contact us at tickleyourtaint@yahoo.com

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 Music Obsessions


Below, you will find our end of the year lists of music-related obsessions for 2014.

Anita Papsmear:


The first 10 CDs are in a specific order. This year, my top CDs were chosen via the  number of songs on each disc that rated 4.5-5 smears (with a 1 out of 5 rating scale,  5 being the best).

  1. Ex Hex, Rips (Merge). No rocket science behind these tunes but this CD makes me happy from beginning to end—pure punk-power pop. 
  2. Black Lips, Underneath The Rainbow (Vice). I love this band and gobble up every release. This is their most accessible CD to date. I love it. Black Lips dance the line of funny and serious. I hear their live show is do not miss. Maybe in 2015 I can convince them to play live at my pool party. I have a feeling they’d be fun at a party.
  3. Ty Segall, Manipulator (Drag City). Pretty perfect CD. Every song is solid and affable. Love it.
  4. The Wytches, Annabel Dream Reader (Patisan). The Wytches unearthed a dark portal of gothic rock principles and took them to their bloody hearts. This CD would be a perfect soundtrack to a dark ride in a bumpy forest.
  5. Temples, Sun Structures (Fat Possum). Temples brand of Zombies loving 70s psychedelia rock is like the coming of the new musical dawn. They aren’t merely regurgitating some familiar sound, they have transformed the sound into their own. It’s an amazing disc that bathes you in a warm magical mist.
  6. Dum Dum Girls, Too True (Sub Pop). I love the Dum Dum Girls. I have never been disappointed in any of their CDs. Too True shines with smooth songwriting and catchy tunes.
  7. Band Of Skulls, Himilayan (+180 Records). Formed in 2008, Band Of Skulls’ 2014 release continues a most excellent streak of solid releases. I love them and every thing they do. This band rules.
  8. The Horrors, Luminous (XL Recordings). A beautiful release from this band. Luminous basks in ambient/psychedelic themes that transport the listener to a rainbow of musical colors.
  9. Allah-Las. Worship The Sun (Innovative). Love this disc—catchy and fun with some good songwriting.
  10. Lana Del Rey, Ultraviolence (Polydor). This is such a solid disc. Lana’s songwriting continues to mature, the melodies are heavenly and she collaborated with the one and only Dan Auerbach  on this one. Win-win-win. 
The rest are in no particular order—just some of the best tunes/CDs I found this year.

Merchandise, After The End (4AD).
Lia Ices, Ices (Jagjaguwar).
The War On Drugs, Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian).
The Pack A.D., Do Not Engage (Nettwerk).
First Aid Kit, Stay Gold (Columbia).
Death From Above 1979, The Physical World (Last Gang).
Kasabian, 48:13 (Harvest).
Pink Mountaintops, Get Back (Jagjaguwar).
Liars, Mess (Mute).
Pete Molinari, Theosophy (Ingrooves).
Spoon, They Want My Soul (Republic/Loma Vista).
Tom Petty, Hypnotic Eye (WB).
Damon Albarn, Everyday Robots (Parlophone).
The Faint, Doom Abuse (SQE).
Broncho, Just Enough Hip To Be Woman (Dine Alone).
Brody Dalle, Diploid Love (Brody Dalle).
Solids, Blame Confusion (Fat Possum).
Bob Mould, Beauty & Ruin (Merge).

Breakout Artist/CD of 2014: Goat, Commune (Sub Pop).
Best song of 2014: Should, “Amends” from The Great Pretend (Sunday Service).
Decent comeback CD: Peter Murphy, Lion (Nettwerk).
Best EP: Broods, Broods (Capitol).
Best Compilation of 2014: Made In Iceland VII (IMX)


Class Warrior:

As usual, these are the albums I listened to and/or enjoyed the most this year. Some are new to me. Some are old favorites that I want to bring to our collective attention. Here it goes.

Judas Priest, Redeemer of Souls (2014).
PRIEST IS BACK! After Nostradamus, their ill-fated concept album from 2008 (has it been that long? Time fucking flies!), I had little hope of ever hearing a good song from this band ever again. They showed me. This is no-bullshit traditional metal—the sound that Priest created thirty-plus years ago, mixed with a huge dash of Painkiller-era hardness. I find that each listen brings slightly diminishing returns, but it starts at such a high level that this shouldn’t concern you. Go buy it. It’s their best album since they reunited a decade ago.

Beach Day, Trip Trap Attack (2013).
Holy shit! Where has this music been all my life? Take every sixties surf, garage, and Spector-type girl groups from the oldies station you grew up listening to, add beautifully strong female vocals, plop in some great, catchy melodies, and hit puree on your music blender. Fuck. I love this band. I am in love with this band. The songs are as catchy as a sticky fly trap. Double-tap, single-tap drums. The surf beat. The heart beat. There’s just the barest hint of grit to this that increases the appeal. The lightest touch from the finest sandpaper. I love this. Did I say that already? It’s the album of 2014 for me, even though it came out last year. It will put a smile on your face. Who wouldn’t want that?



Beach Day, Native Echoes (2014).
I haven’t listened to this one nearly as much as the above album, but it’s in the same vein. Maybe I will tell you more later!

TV Smith, I Delete (2014).
The guy from first-wave English punk band The Adverts is still playing music! Well, he never stopped playing. I’ll bet you did not know this. Whether you cared is another matter entirely. I will try to convince you to care. This is passionate, intelligent, poetic punk/rock. The first song “Replay” (linked below) will get stuck in your head for days. This is just the latest album of his long career—they’re hard to get in the United States, but not impossible. This is my second favorite album for 2014. If you are intrigued, BBC filmed a short (but fascinating) documentary about Smith. I’ve included a link to it here!







White Lung, Deep Fantasy (2014) and Sorry (2012).
Wow. This Vancouver, BC band kicks serious ass. All fast, all punk rock. The drummer knows only one pace. I would say it is inspired by early 80s Southern California bands, except there’s more melody here. Singer Mish sounds to me like she’s somewhere between Mia Zapata of the Gits and…would you believe Stevie Nicks? Apparently Mish has a fascination with the Fleetwood Mac member—their facebook page said so. I can hear it. Check out these records if you’re one of those assholes who thinks punk is dead.

The Oath, The Oath (2014).
I like my doom metal with sung vocals, not stoned Cookie Monster growls. This band delivers. Straight-ahead traditional doom with clean female singing. I enjoyed this, but I had a hard time making it through the whole CD.

Pallbearer, Foundations of Burden (2014).
Jimmy B gave me the first record from these doom metal dudes. Rad. The long songs test my patience a bit—this is one of the drawbacks of listening to so much punk rock—but they are worth it. I’ll have to take this with me when I go to Washington state soon and listen to it while I smoke some Legal.

Cartouche, Bread and Roses (2014).
French punk done right. One might say that this is a contradiction in terms—there is no way to create good French punk. Well, that’s close to the truth, but it’s a bit more nuanced than that. Some of the first wave of French punk from the seventies is pretty listenable, there’s the Plastic Bertrand song (but he’s from Belgium, so that doesn’t count), I can listen to a Les Thugs album about once a decade, and the obscure nineties band La Fraction had a good song. The French language is just too soft for punk rock. It’s not aggressive enough. Cartouche overcomes this by 1) employing a female vocalist (which is usually enough to win me over) and 2) cranking up the melody along with the guitars. Quite a good effort.

Vampire, Vampire (2014).
The first song begins. It’s raging fast metal—not quite traditional, not quite thrash—I like this. Good riff. Sorta reminds me of one of the faster Venom songs. The singer’s about to start...well, fuck. So much for that. Cookie Monster. I couldn’t take more than five seconds before I stopped the song. If Cookie Monster vocals don’t bother you, if you eat up those vocals like...a cookie, check out this record. Enjoy it for me. I cannot. (As an aside: I cannot imagine any fictional vampire with a gruff Cookie Monster voice. How would they draw in their prey with “grr, grwauouf, huhh huhh bleaurgh?”)

Grand Magus, Triumph and Power (2014).
These Swedes are trying to beat Judas Priest at their own game, and are doing a pretty good job of it! This album isn’t as memorable as Redeemer of Souls, but that doesn’t mean that it is unworthy of our attention. In 2014, it seems that all I can ask of a metal album is that it doesn’t have cookie monster out front.

Wooden Stake, Dungeon Prayers and Tombyard Serenades (2012).
This sounds to me like someone took a doom band and a black metal band, smooshed them together with very large (decomposing) hands, and called it a day. I really like the music, and I love, love, love it when Vanessa sings with her clean vocals. This happens about half the time. The other half she growls out a, well, evil goblin screech that gets on my nerves after a very short while. It’s well done, and I totally appreciate that she can make her voice do that, but damn it, I like her normal voice! The music sounds more evil and corrupted when she sings cleanly. The presence of the evil goblin doesn’t necessarily ruin the album for me, but I wish the band had kicked out the small green howler (if that makes sense).

The Naked and Famous, Passive Me, Aggressive You (2009).
Thanks for the recommendation, Null. I’ve enjoyed the hell out of this record.

Pulp, Different Class (1995).
I had no idea that this album existed. In 1995, and for several years before and after that, I listened to nothing but punk rock. When the song “Common People” passed in front of me early this year, I knew I had found something great. That song is so good that I’ve pretty much ignored the other songs. A dance song about class conflict? Hell yes! “You will never understand how it feels to live your life with no meaning or control.” Indeed. I hate rich people too. This was my favorite new (to me) song that I heard this year. Now I need to listen to the rest of the album.

The Gits, Frenching the Bully (1992).
I gave this record a spin after not listening to it for many years. Still love it. Mia was one of a kind. Punk rock.

Jesus Jones, Doubt (1991).
I listened to Jesus Jones a lot back when I was making the transition from pop music to punk rock. I was almost fully into punk when I discovered this record way back when. I like it still. I put it on the mp3 player and played it a few times while I mowed the lawn this summer. I don’t like “Right Here, Right Now,” but there are other songs here that are pretty enjoyable. When I hear this it takes me back to being a high school junior, which is both lovely and horrifying. Mostly the latter.

Madonna, True Blue (1986) and Like a Virgin (1984).
Let’s throw in the song “Crazy for You” from the Vision Quest soundtrack as well. I needed some melody this summer. Early Madonna delivered and then some. Many of these songs are brilliant. I would understand completely if you refused to listen to these on principle. I was right there with you until this year. I guess my principles are slipping.

Mercyful Fate, Melissa (1983).
This is a classic. I really enjoy these songs. It’s the only record by this band (and, for that matter, by King Diamond) that I like. If you’re not familiar with Melissa, give it a listen sometime. It’s plenty evil for you. Great for road trips, too.

INXS, Shabooh Shoobah (1982).
I have pledged that I will write a full review of this album. Look for it sometime next year. I promise.

The Go-Go’s, Beauty and the Beat (1981?)
You know you like it.

Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures (1979).
This is another classic. Many people mention it as one of their favorite albums of all time. I have tried to appreciate this for a decade, but I’ve never understood the appeal. I think this year I finally got it, at least in part. The turning point came while I was in Portland last March with friends I hadn’t seen in a while. We sat at a large round table at the (vegan) bar swapping vasectomy stories, among other topics I should not mention here. As we were preparing to leave, the first song from this album (“Disorder”) began to play. It was the perfect song to hear as I was surrounded by great friends on a dark, rainy night. Now I like Unknown Pleasures. I think. I haven’t listened to it in a few months, though, because I have to counter it with sun and warmth. It does not go well with winter, especially here in Frozen City. Maybe if I take enough vitamin D... (Edit: I read this a few days after I wrote it. I don’t think what I wrote reflects a proper understanding of Unknown Pleasures. I guess I’m back to not understanding it.)


Dave:

(Is at band practice.)


Five-Inch Taint:


This was another great year in music for me. I was fortunate enough to venture out with SoDak for some great live music. One band, in particular, really shined for me: Diarrhea Planet. Yes, you are probably thinking to yourself how great of a name that is. And, seeing them live may or may not have given me the green apple splatters. For those of you who are interested in some good, fun garage rock Diarrhea Planet is the band to see. Although, they might have one guitarist too many they will literally rock the shit out of you.

This year I also got to have a taste of Riot Fest in Denver. Normally I’m not a huge fan of festivals but I really enjoyed the eclectic mix of music on offer. Unfortunately, the venue had to move from a farm outside of Denver to the parking lot of the old Mile High Stadium (where the Broncos play). There wasn’t much protection from the sun or comfortable places to sit down when my lazy ass got tired, but the music more than made up for any discomfort. Of the many highlights was when NOFX played the entirety of The Decline. The 15-year old me definitely came in his pants. It was a real thrill to see The Buzzcocks perform as I thought I would never get the opportunity. Also, I finally got to see Social Distortion, The Descendents, and All. My lady friend did not enjoy Primus, but she has really bad taste in music, so her opinion is invalid. Overall, the experience was great, if exhausting. Hopefully I will be able to go back next year.

There was so much good music on offer this year. Too much to remember what I actually bought but I will try to give an account of my 10 favorite albums from this year:

10.) The Growlers: Chinese Fountain. Not necessarily the greatest album in the world but they are a tight band that puts on a decent live show.

9.) Old Testament: Old Testament. For those of you that enjoy Dead Meadow, this band (featuring Jason Simon from Dead Meadow) will keep you satisfied.

8.) Spiders: Shake Electric. Some good ol’ fashion rock and roll with lady vox. Like Heart just not as good.

7.) Sons of Huns: Banishment Ritual. Who doesn’t enjoy stoner metal with some great sci-fi themed lyrics?

6.) Pallbearer: Foundations of Burden. The sophomore effort from this Doom metal band will keep you warm on those cold, dark Salt Lake nights.

5.) Old 97’s: Hitchike to Rhome. This reissue comes with 12 previously unreleased tracks. I was not fortunate enough to be able to buy this when it initially came out but am glad that I now have it as part of my collection.

4.) Neil Young: Storytone. Upon first listening, I was fairly lukewarm on this double album. Two CDs with exactly the same songs? Well, the second disc, a mixture of a large orchestra and a big band, really adds depth and emotion to many of the songs. I never thought Neil Young would make any list of mine.

3.) Iron Reagan: The Tyranny of Will. Holy fuck! These guys are incredible. Fast-paced, in-your-face punk rock (with a little thrash thrown in for good measure) with some political lyrics (yet they don’t take themselves too seriously), this band pleases me in a way that not even my lady friend can.

2.) Bloodbath: Grand Morbid Funeral. This is a Swedish death metal supergroup with members from Opeth, Katatonia, and Paradise Lost. I had this album on repeat for at least a month before I could move onto anything else.

1.) Cannibal Corpse: A Skeletal Domain. While not their best album, Cannibal Corpse continues to push the envelope when it comes to technical, yet melodic, death metal. Their riffs would be solos in any other band and “Corpsegrinder” will destroy any who try to keep up with his beefy neck while he headbangs. I will never not have a Cannibal album on my top ten.

A special shout out goes to our friend Jimmy (Explosive Diarrehea) who hooked me up with a sweet set of speakers at a ridiculous price. After scouring the local Salt Lake City classifieds (from afar I might add), he tipped me off to a pair of Advent speakers, which are currently blasting away in my tiny apartment. This has enhanced my musical experience!


Gusty Bellows:

Top Ten 2014
Slint, Spiderland Deluxe Edition (Touch and Go, 2014).
Survival Knife, Loose Power (Fat Possum, 2014).
The Shirts, The Shirts (Harvest, 1978).
Electric Wizard, Time To Die (Spinefarm, 2014).
Liars, Mess (Mute, 2014).
Shellac, Dude Incredible (Touch and Go, 2014).
Solids, Blame Confusion (Fat Possum, 2013).
The Coral, The Curse Of Love (Skeleton Key, 2014)
Oozing Wound, Earth Suck (Thrill Jockey, 2014).
Bob Mould, Beauty & Ruin (Merge, 2014).


Jimmy “Explosive Diarrehea” B:


Funkadelic, Maggot Brain (1971).
I bought this album on a whim. I was looking for a Bill Withers record in the soul/R & B section in a record store, and saw Maggot Brain. I took a chance and ended up with the best album I purchased in 2014. I knew George Clinton’s work from Parliament, which didn’t impress me. Funkadelic has some similarities to Parliament, but Funkadelic is artistically more sincere. The music is a combination of prog rock, soul, and funk.

My favorite uncle, Harley.
In the ‘70s, my uncle lived in a two-room miner’s shack—the home where my mother and her ten siblings grew up—in a small mountain town, now eradicated due to the expansion of a strip mine. I lived in the neighboring town one mile away. I used to hike up the mountain to sit in my uncle’s living room, listen to truck driving songs, admire his record collection, and play with his collection of toy trucks. Harley died in 2014, and the dear man left me his record collection (nearly 1,500 country and western records, not including the 100s of 45s). I can’t imagine anything more personal he could have left me.

Boy George, This Is What I Do (2013).
There is a chance that your jaw just hit the floor at the inclusion of Boy George on a metal head’s year-end list. I am a little shocked at myself for including it for a couple of reasons. First, we are talking about Boy George, a guy I made fun of relentlessly in the ‘80s. Second, the record really isn’t one of the top albums I bought in 2014. I am including it because I am still trying to recover from the shock of how much I like an album by Mr. George. His young high-pitched voice is completely gone; it has been replaced by a rough whiskey-soaked tenor that reminds me a lot of Warren Zevon.

Brown Bird, Fits of Reason (2013).
I have been a fan of Brown Bird for several years now. They were one of the best live acts I had seen. I use past tense, because David Lamb, one-half of the duo, died in 2013. Fits of Reason is likely the last album from Brown Bird—unless there are some songs stashed away someplace. David Lamb had one of the great folk voices. If you liked Iron and Wine, before they started to suck, then go get this album.

CAN
It is entirely Dave’s fault, but I have been buying up CAN albums over the last couple of years, the bulk of which were purchased in 2014. These Germans were deliciously unpredictable. They could sound poppy one minute, and engage in electronic noise the next. There is nobody else who sound like CAN. If you want to check them out, I suggest starting with the album Monster Movie.

Damien Jurado, Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son (2014).
I didn’t expect to like this album as much as I do. I heard a couple tracks on the radio, and was impressed enough to go forth and seek out a used copy of the record. Damien Jurado plays melancholy pop. The music contains an element of pysch rock, but somehow the spaced out fuzziness creates a sense of despair that we would expect from bands like Idaho or Low rather than a sense of surrealness. Jurado’s unique voice—I am unable to find the words to describe it—also contributes to the melancholy feel of the music.

Diesto, High as the Sun (2010) and For Water or Blood (2014).
I have known about Diesto for a long time. Dave wrote a review of one of their albums for this blog a few years ago. Somehow their albums never really tickled my taint. I found them to be somewhat generic and dull. That all changed in 2014 when over beers Dave mentioned the confusion he was experiencing about For Water or Blood—was it more of the same from Diesto or something brilliant? I decided to find out for myself. I think these two albums are some of the best doom metal I have heard in a very long time. It is not straight doom; it fluctuates from hard rock to metal to doom. There are even some progish moments on these records. High as the Sun is the better album of the two, but they are both worth tracking down.

King Buzzo, This Machine Kills Artists (2014).
If you are a Melvins fan like me, you may dread the release of a new Melvin’s album while at the same time barely restrain yourself from running out and buying it on the Tuesday morning when the record is released. I don’t have this relationship with any other band, well, maybe a little bit with Novembers Doom. You see, you never know what you are going to get with a Melvin’s record. It could be a barely listenable noise album, or something brilliant. I was skeptical about the new King Buzzo record. I expected something strange and unlistenable. But, I was pleasantly surprised. This Machine Kills Artists is brilliant, and one of the best albums I bought in 2014.

My Graveyard Jaw, Coming Winds (2012).
Should Coming Winds be referred to as a folk or country album? I am leaning toward country, but I won’t argue the point. If you have ever wondered what Tom Waits would sound like as a country singer, you may want to give My Graveyard Jaw a listen (this comparison has limits, the MGJ vocalist has a much better voice than Mr. Waits). This is dark country at its best.

The Tower, The Abundant Leones (2014).
The Tower has catapulted to the top of the list of retro sounding bands in my music collection. They have taken the NWOBHM formula of bands like Witchcraft, Blood Ceremony, and Ghost BC, and incorporated another retro style, early American progressive rock. I am not referring to the prog styling of bands like King Crimson (which is British prog), but more like Captain Beyond and Dust. If you like the new NWOBHM bands, go get The Abundant Leones. You will love it.

Paranaut and Satan Spelled Backwards at Foggy Notion, Portland, OR.
Several years ago, Portland Oregon’s Paranaut broke up, and my desire to trek out to see local bands broke apart at the time. Paranaut was the vehicle by which I got out to see local bands, and Portland has had some good ones over the years (see the reference to Diesto above). In 2014, Paranaut reformed with the inclusion of Tickle Your Taint’s own Dave, and now (when Dave remembers to tell me about gigs) I am once again part of the local music scene. I saw them at a small local club a month ago, with two members from another local band, more on that in a minute. The show was wonderful; I partied like it was 2007.

Two of my motorcycling buddies are in a band called Satan Spelled Backwards (SSB). I saw them play at the same small club/bar, Foggy Notion, as Paranaut. Interestingly two-thirds of SSB went with me to see Paranaut and Dave went with me to see SSB. It is endlessly fascinating to me how local bands can have absolutely amazing musicianship and song writing skills, and be completely unknown. Some of the best musicians I have ever seen were local and playing in small clubs. Satan Spelled Backward has great song writing and a great bass player. His stage presence is reminiscent of the late John Entwhistle. Hopefully the SSB boys will record something soon.

Swans at the Wonder Ballroom, Portland, OR.
The Swans are a strange bunch of doods. I was a little nervous about dishing out money to see them. I expected them to be boring, but a couple of friends insisted it would be great, so I relented. This show turned out to be more than a concert; it was an experience. The band took control of the audience from the opening minute and didn’t let go until the final note died away. Swans may join the Meat Puppets and Nomeansno as a band I will not miss when they pass within easy driving distance.

Some other memorable shows:
DOA with a bunch of Taint Ticklers, Meat Puppets, Tinariwen, and Peter Buck


Kloghole:

This list will be a short one. I have only added two discs from 2014 to my collection.

1. Overkill, White Devil Armory.
Not a big departure from their latest sound. I love everything Overkill, but these days, I have not taken the time to just sit down and really listen to my albums. To be honest, I could not even rank it relative to their other body of work. Lame, I know. You would think that I would have the time to listen to two new albums, but I am one seriously useless motherfucker this year.

2. Ronnie James Dio: This is Your Life.
A tribute album with some good contributions from folks like Doro, Halestorm, and Dio’s closing song. There are 3-butt-nugget-worthy songs such as Metallica’s typical mangling of the genre and Halford’s pathetically limp interpretation of “Man on Silver Mountain” (Halford’s rendition here reminds me of Blaze Bailey’s Iron Maiden attempts—a great voice castrated). I would suggest steering clear of this one unless you have a partner who loves anything Dio, which is how this one ended up in my collection.

Other than that, I was able to pick up a few albums on my trip to Portland in March.  Some highlights from that stack include:

3. The Sword, Age of Winters (2006) and Warp Riders (2010).
I finally got over my bias against Sword for their painful lack of ingenuity for adding “The” to the name of my beloved Sword.

4. Waylon Jennings, Going Down Rockin’ (2012).
Not bad. I dig pretty much everything Waylon, but this is not where I would suggest someone start their collection.

5. Trouble, The Distortion Field (2013).
Still has the signature guitar sound, but I do not recall getting the same chills as their earlier albums. New singer is an obvious change, but it does not turn me off to the album.

6. James McMurtry, Saint Mary of the Woods (2002).
Since my friend took me to a show in St. Louis, I fell head over heels for this dude. I actually bumped into him in the hotel after the show. We joked about the elevators that require a room key to operate, and then I pointed him to a late night pub. “Choctaw Bingo” is on this one, but I prefer the live version. You cannot go wrong with this guy. Great stories and hooky guitar work. He has kind of a talking singing style, so if that turns you off, your loss.

7. Saxon, Saxon (1979).
Good shit. Enough said.

8. Havok, Unnatural Selection (2013).
Love these little dudes. Nice throwback metal sound. I met up with Cheezus at a Havok/Skeletonwich show. After the show, Cheezus wandered through the green room to grab a beer, and we found ourselves outside while the bands were loading up. While Cheezus was chatting up a lady with a blood mustache, I told the dude from Havok that “I told you, I would see you in the Cities.” When I told my partner the story, she said I was being a little creepy. Oh well.

Sweet Dreams Motherfuckers!


Null:

Records:
The Last Internationale, “Workers of the World Unite” Single (2013) / New York I Do Mind Dying EP (Manifesta, 2013) / Choose Your Killer LP (Manifesta, 2011) / We Will Reign LP (Epic, 2014).
The Last Internationale are a folk/blues/garage rock band from New York that have written some of the most powerful radical anthems for change in the last several years. They are also capable of delivering high-powered traditional blues and folk. Though Epic “released their debut album” this year, they actually have several previous releases, most notably Choose Your Killer, which has the original and superior version of “Life, Liberty, & The Pursuit of Indian Blood.” Check ‘em out. Viva la Revolution!



The Naked and Famous, Rolling Waves (Universal, 2013).
I was obsessed with album for a good long while this year.
See my review from June this year.



Spiders, Shake Electric (Spinefarm, 2014).
I picked up this record in Salt Lake City this year. I loved it from the first. Rock ‘n’ Roll from Germany.



The 1975, The 1975 (Dirty Hit, 2013).
A strangely authentic feeling 80s album. I suggest the Deluxe Version that contains the album and 4 EPs. See my review from June this year.



The Menzingers, On the Impossible Past (Epitaph, 2012).
Though not apparent on the first listen, this album is a staggering work of literary genius.
See my review from May this year.



Motorhead, Stone Deaf Forever Box Set (Sanctuary 2003).
My love for Lemmy and Motorhead continues to grow daily. Most of the albums I know and love are from the last 10 years or so. I have never been very familiar with their earlier work—and there is a lot of it. Therefore I picked up this out-of-print 5 CD Box Set. Unlike other box sets—this was authorized and approved by Motorhead themselves. I have had it for two weeks and I am only on the second CD. Just amazing. As SoDak recently stated, “Motorhead are the essence of rock ‘n’ roll.”



Bob Mould, Beauty & Ruin (Merge, 2014).
Bob’s new album seems to fit comfortably on Merge Records, as John Wurster (of Superchunk) and Jason Narducy do a great job backing him up. Apparently, the record was influenced by the death of Bob’s father, so there is plenty of weight hanging in the air as the music fills the room. This is what we have come to expect from Bob. But…this record feels like a new day. I know he didn’t go anywhere but somehow he feels like he is back. This record is as good as some of Bob’s greatest work: Workbook, Black Sheets of Rain, Beaster, Copper Blue, and a number of Husker Du records. I think it really is that good. The noted return of punk rock is welcomed, as well.



Lana Del Rey, Ultraviolence (Interscope, 2014).
This was a complete surprise. I knew who Lana Del Rey was and I didn’t like anything about her. Her pouty self-inflicted pseudo-intellectual bimbo bullshit was made all the more obvious from interviews. But her new album is just…well, really good. I heard Anita Papsmear play a song from the album on the radio and I really liked it. I had to investigate, and the record is a black-and-white-sensual-smoky-hipster in denial-contrived product that is actually really good. It is obvious that Dan Auerbach’s production and guitar made all of this palpable and so different from her first record. Much of it is actually quite beautiful for hopeless and doomed romantics. Somehow…together, they made a classic album. We will see if this can be maintained.



Bruce Springsteen, The Album Collection Vol. 1 1973-1984 (Columbia, 2014).
The remastered versions of Darkness on the Edge of Town and Nebraska make this box set worth every penny and that is only to name two of the eight albums in this collection. Springsteen—the first eight records in facsimiles of the original LP releases. Yeah, I’ll have one of those. Granted, this is a lot of Springsteen with many “Bruce moments” where the E Street Band creates such a wall of meat-and-potatoes noise that it may push one over the edge. However, these albums are also filled with many tender and sad portraits of class struggle and the dying of a cruel, unattainable, and fruitless American dream for the working class. Some of these songs will make you weep.



Live Shows:
Note: SoDak and I had two musical goals this year. We wanted to see Cannibal Corpse and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers together.  Astonishingly, the mission was accomplished.

Cannibal Corpse (Denver, Colorado).
Not only did I finally get to experience the digit dexterity Olympics that is a Cannibal Corpse show, but we also got to hang out and talk with each member of the band. I had a little secret goal to hug George “Corpsegrinder” Fischer before I died. The big teddy bear hugged me, not once, but 3 times! There was lots of talk about vegan food and reasons to not drink alcohol. Ooooo…scary! They are all really nice and humble guys.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Red Rocks, Morrison, Colorado).
The last time I saw Petty & the gang was right before I graduated from high school. Since then, I have become a pretty hardcore Petty fan. It was nice, all these years later, to see the guys that had inadvertently written the soundtrack to my life in the form of radio singles. I know they are hugely popular, but I still get the sense they are underappreciated.

The Menzingers (Riot Fest, Denver, Colorado).
Having been obsessed with On the Impossible Past, I sang and danced my ass off. I thought they were fucking great.

Bob Mould (Riot Fest, Denver, Colorado).
Right after seeing The Menzingers I ran over to Bob’s stage. It was all energy and memory. There were old Husker Du classics like “Chartered Trips” and songs from the new record. I danced and played air guitar until I almost feel down. I hadn’t seen Bob live since the Sugar days.

The Cure (Riot Fest, Denver, Colorado).
The Cure remains one of the best live bands of all time. The last time I saw the Cure was in 1989 during the Disintegration tour. For those that are not in the know—they play guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards. Here lie some of the best basslines since Joy Division. They played for over two hours, as usual.

The Naked and Famous (Boulder, Colorado).
They are just as beautiful, fun, and moving live. My favorite Kiwis.


Scott:


1. Bob Dylan live. Loyal readers of this blog might recall that, last year, my #1 grievance was that someone puked all over my shoes at an outdoor Dylan show. I left early that night, but I vowed to try and see him again, and this year, I did. And no one puked on my shoes! What a great night. (The show was good, too.)

2. Bob Dylan and the Band, The Basement Tapes Complete: Bootleg Series Vol. 11 (2014). Speaking of the Dylan-Industrial-Complex, I ponied up for the expanded Basement Tapes box set not long ago. I’m still digesting this, but it’s a rich collection of material that’s probably best thought about as a whole set. I’m not sure if some of the best songs are great or just fascinating (like the Johnny Cash covers), but there’s some bullshit in here, too. It’s a valuable historical document for sure, if you’re into buying music for that reason.

3. Various Artists,
Look Again to the Wind (2014). Musicians of the future should study this as an example of how to cover an entire album with just the right mixture of respect and interpretation. This is a top-to-bottom re-creation of Johnny Cash’s 1964 album Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian, plus two instrumental reprises and “Look Again to the Wind” by Peter La Farge, who wrote many of the songs on Bitter Tears. Cash’s album was a searing but restrained indictment of the many injustices leveled against Native Americans over a long period of displacement and oppression; this version is more haunting and gloomy than the original, which is perhaps appropriate since we’re half a century deeper into that sorrowful historical process. When I heard that Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, producer Joe Henry, and others would be putting this together, I had high expectations, which were met and surpassed by this album.

4. Crowbar,
Symmetry in Black (2014). Like Motorhead, Crowbar is one of those bands that seemed to appear fully formed on their first album, and has since made a career of consistency and quality. There’s enough variation between albums to keep it interesting, but otherwise Crowbar plows ahead with an “if-it-ain’t-broke” mentality, and releases one heavy-as-fuck album after another. This installment seems especially good compared to the last Down EP (part 2 of an ongoing series), which is the supergroup’s first without Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein, and certainly isn’t bad but feels a little under-baked.

5. Ryan Adams,
Ryan Adams (2014). This motherfucker has ways of pissing me off (like self-titling this album, or boasting that he blew an exorbitant amount of money recording an album that he scrapped, and then started over with this one). But I also think he’s one of the best artists working today. I usually prefer his alt-country and folkie side to the indie rock side, but this is basically a rock album, and it’s fantastic.

6. Causalities of Cool,
Causalities of Cool. This album is hard to explain unless you’re familiar with Devin Townsend and his myriad projects (as a solo artist and with Strapping Young Lad). I’m a convinced Devin fan—although it seems like he releases whatever he manages to record, which isn’t always a great idea even for a great artist—and this is one of his best because it pushes into slightly new sonic territory, including some forays into country music. This album is eerie and weird, but sometimes beautiful, and has cover art that captures the vibe perfectly: an old-fashioned radio, blasted and smoking, sitting on what looks like the surface of the moon, left out in the annihilating vastness of space.

7. Pete Seeger,
American Favorite Ballads Vols. 1-5 (2009). Pete Seeger died early in 2014, and I spent some time this year reflecting on the man and his life as an artist and revolutionary. This collection brings together albums he recorded in the late 1950s and early 60s, alone, usually accompanying himself on guitar or banjo. The sound is spare but engrossing, and Pete works his way through a diverse bunch of songs, a real treasure trove of (not entirely all) American music. There are some songs here that I want to skip—who the fuck sits down and listens to “Yankee Doodle”?—but it’s an overwhelmingly strong collection otherwise, and a fine testament to an irreplaceable artist.

8. Lydia Loveless,
Indestructible Machine (2011). I heard her for the first time this year, bought this album, and listened to it over and over for a week. She reminds me of Neko Case with more attitude and more rocking songs, which are, at least on this album, mostly about booze and heartbreak. Worth it alone for the song “Steve Earle,” about being pursued in a very creepy way by that famous musician, which is hilarious, assuming that it’s a joke (and I’m not 100 percent sure it is).

9. Son Volt,
Wide Swing Tremolo (1998). Certain that my co-ticklers might be horrified to learn that I didn’t own this album until somewhat recently, maybe last year, as in 2013. It was one of those situations where I had worked through the whole Son Volt catalog and overlooked this album, and then forgot that I didn’t own it. What a tragic fucking mistake, I learned as I listened to this all through the year. Every Son Volt album is great, and this one is especially great.

10. Geoff Dyer,
But Beautiful (1991). I read a handful of music-related books in 2014, but this one stands out. The subtitle is A Book about Jazz, which is really the only way to describe it. Dyer blends fiction with historical research and music criticism to create portraits of some legendary jazz figures, portraits that are mostly true but maybe not entirely factual, and certainly shaped by Dyer’s own imagination. It’s the kind of approach that’s hard to pull off and risks turning into a load of self-indulgent bullshit if it fails—like a lot of jazz music—but Dyer succeeds, and creates his own kind of art in the process.


SoDak:

Records:

Sturgill Simpson, High Top Mountain (2013) and Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (2014).
Two of my favorite records this year are by Sturgill Simpson. Both records remind me of great country albums from the 1970s by Waylon Jennings and Billy Joe Shaver. The band is smooth, creating the perfect moody complement for Sturgill’s voice. While the records have a classic sound, they also sound fresh. Sturgill sings about his own struggles with addiction, as well as more philosophical issues. It is an interesting combination. His vocals are strong. I was very excited that he was playing a show where I live, but I fucked up and did not buy tickets in time. Had no idea that the show would sell out. Amazing records. Hope he keeps putting them out on a regular basis.


John Mellencamp, Plain Spoken (2014).
John Mellencamp will probably not have hit songs like he did in the 1980s. But, I think he is making some of the best music of his career. His last few records are more stripped down. His 2008 record, Life, Death, Love and Freedom, was exceptional. His new album, Plain Spoken, is very strong. Mellencamp’s voice sounds worn from the years of smoking. The focus remains telling stories of people struggling to get by. At times, he captures the best of Springsteen, as far as the latter’s acoustic records. Plain Spoken starts off strong with “Troubled Man.” I listen to this song a couple times a week, when I am walking to work. It helps prepare me for the grind of the day.



Portastatic, Bright Ideas (2005).
The last few years, I have not been able to get enough of Superchunk. Having all of their records, I was yearning for something new from them. Thus, I decided to pick up records by Mac McCaughan’s side project, Portastatic. While this band is generally much more mellow than Superchunk, I get more songs by Mac. Love his voice and songwriting. For some reason, this record hits me in the heart, making me yearn for a place that I have never been.


Selda, Türkülerimiz, Vol. 6 (1984).
I love record stores, especially when I am looking through the bins and over the stereo in the store I hear a record that I must buy. This past summer, the fine folks at the local shop were playing an older Selda record. I was captivated by the voice, since I did not understand any of the words. Selda is a Turkish musician. In the 1980s, she was imprisoned for her political songs. She has experimented with a variety of music styles over the years. Türkülerimiz is hypnotic. I am still reeling, as the sounds swirl through my head.

Only Crime, Pursuance (2014).
The previous Only Crime records were fine. I just picked up Pursuance on a whim. It is by far their best record. Bill Stevenson’s drumming always sounds great. I love the guitar tones. This is a solid melodic, hardcore/punk record.

William Fitzsimmons, Lions (2014).
My friend Sticks introduced me to William Fitzsimmons many years ago, when the artist’s first record was released. The similarity to the first Iron and Wine records is obvious. While Iron and Wine gets shittier with every new record, Fitzsimmons has continued to put out great records. Lions is a mellow, contemplative record.

Bob Mould, Beauty & Ruin (2014).
Bob Mould has been putting out fairly consistent records. Beauty & Ruin is great. There is a little more punk rock edge on this record. Wonderful. At Riot Fest in Denver, he performed a great set that reminded me of how great he can be. Plus, it was a joy to see Null rocking out.

The Felice Brothers, Favorite Waitress (2014).
From time to time, I pick up a record by The Felice Brothers. Their record, Favorite Waitress, stood out this year. It is quirky, as was to be expected. For me, this is record to listen to late at night, while sitting outside. The songs sound as though the members of the band have had a few drinks. They slightly stumble through some of the songs, much like The Band seemed to do at times. This fall, I saw the The Felice Brothers put on a great show.



Greys, If Anything (2014).
If Anything is a great rock record. There is a strong Fugazi influence here. Listen to this loud.


Goatwhore, Constricting Rage of the Merciless (2014).
This is my favorite Goatwhore record. Everything seems to be coming together for this group. The sound is great. I can actually hear what the singer is saying. The songs vary quite a bit, which helps keep my interest. I hear an occasional punk influence. Nevertheless, this black/death metal band delivers punishing songs that are not for the faint of heart. They put on a great show this past year, even though very few people were in attendance.


Malcolm Holcombe, Pitiful Blues (2014).
Malcolm Holcombe has been a very consistent artist. He regularly puts out a folk/country/blues record, filled with songs of hardship and love. His voice is gruff, yet dynamic. This is a great record to listen to while walking in the rain.

Scenic Route to Alaska, Warrington (2014).
Null picked up this disc and gave it to me. I love this record. It is rooted in Americana music, while incorporating some indie-rock elements. Great songs.


Freedom Hawk, Freedom Hawk (2009).
This record has been in my car stereo a lot as of late. I like the Sabbath riffs on many of the songs.


Spiders, Shake Electric (2014).
With each listen, I have become more enthusiastic about this band. Spiders have a good female singer. The band plays mid-tempo rock songs, somewhat in the hard rock vein. I find myself walking home at night, rocking to this record, singing the choruses out loud, while I play air guitar. Fortunately, it is dark when I walk home. Check out the song “Control.”

Concerts:
This year I went to over thirty concerts. Below I list a few of the shows that were exceptional.

Off!
This show took place on a loading dock. Off! were so fuckin’ tight. Short, fast songs. They were intense. Amazing. It was the best performance I have ever seen from Keith Morris. Keep at it boys.

Iron Reagan.
Five-Inch Taint and I went to see Iron Reagan in a small bar. The performance was very energetic. Between the songs all the band members were hilarious, rambling on about non-sense.

Kadavar.
This German band put on an incredible show for a very small crowd. I like both of their records, however, the live performance made me appreciate the songs much more.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy.
I have seen amazing and horrible shows by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. This year, he put on a great performance. It was the first time that I had seen him do an acoustic show. His voice was rich and seductive. Beautiful night.

Diarrhea Planet.
Null introduced me to this band last year. I liked the record, so I figured what the hell. Diarrhea Planet had four guitar players. While it seemed like overkill (after all, they are not Iron Maiden), they rocked the fuck out. The guitar players took turns singing, which was interesting. Five-Inch Taint and I had a great time at this show.

Turnpike Troubadours.
Love their records. Finally had a chance to see them. They put on a great show, knocking out one Americana song after another. The vocal patterns on the songs did not vary much, but it was still enjoyable. The various members of the band were smoking hot on their instruments.

The Cure.
I thought I would never see The Cure. I was thrilled that they were on the schedule for Riot Fest. They played over two and half hours. They played songs from their entire career. I would have loved to hear more music from the first several records. Nevertheless, the set was outstanding.

The Descendents.
The other band on Riot Fest that got me excited was the Descendents. Had a lot of fun with our crew of friends at Riot Fest. It was great jumping around singing along with Milo. They knocked out the songs. Time passed much too quickly. Wonderful.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.
One of my music goals for this year was to see Tom Petty with Null. When the tour was announced, it did not look promising, given the cities and dates. A show was added to the Red Rocks dates. Null and I, as well as our little ladies, scored good seats. Every fuckin’ song was great. The list of songs that I would have liked them to play is so long, they would have had to play throughout the whole night and the next day. For days after the show, we just listened to Tom Petty. He has provided the soundtrack to our lives, whether we recognize it or not.

Cannibal Corpse.
Null and I headed to Denver on the spur of the moment to see Cannibal Corpse play in Denver. We were not thrilled to attend the all day festival, so we timed it just right to get there just before Corpse played. It was a short set, as we expected. Of course, Cannibal Corpse were good. The real gem of the event took place after the show. We were able to talk with all of the members. They were very kind and fun.

Documentaries:

Filmage: The Story of the Descendents/All.
My wife and I just watched this documentary. While there is much more that I would have liked to have known about the individuals in the bands, it is a very good documentary. I used to live in the same town as ALL, so I would see them play quite a bit. This documentary brought back some memories of those days.

20 Feet from Stardom.
This film is a fascinating look at the lives and roles of backup singers. It is very good.

Muscle Shoals.
I love the documentaries about Stax and Motown, so I was looking forward to this film about early soul music. While I could have done without some of the new renditions of classic songs, as well as fuckers like Bono, who are in the film, it is still a very good film about the history of studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

Sing Your Song.
This is a powerful film focused on Harry Belafonte, as a musician and activist. I wish the film went into more detail regarding how radical Belafonte is and the political-economic context of most of the events briefly mentioned, it is still a fascinating story. It is also refreshing to see music and politics be discussed without apologies.


Travis:

(Is playing Rock Band.)