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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Music Obsessions, Favorites, and Gems


This year we welcomed a new person to the taint-tickling family. In 2016, there will also be several new folks. For now, we share our music-related obsessions for 2015.


Anita Papsmear:

Top 2015 CDs:

#1. Crocodiles, Boys (Zoo).
I wish the entire world knew and loved this band. Until then, I will try to be a big enough fan to make up for the rest. Great release, can hardly wait to see them live. Check out “Crybaby Demon,” “Fooling’ Around,” and “Blue.”

#2. Foals, What Went Down (Warner).
I think this band has found their sweet spot. Their previous CDs have been really good, but with WWD they have mastered their craft. This is an amazing CD from start to finish that contains some of the best songs of the year. Check out “Mountain At My Gates,” “Snake Oil,” and “Lonely Hunter.”

#3. Black Rainbows, Hawkdope (Import).
This band is the bacon of the music world—thick and salty, with a pungent kick that will leave you tasting the thick coating of this CD all day. Listen to “Hypnotize My Soul With Rock & Roll,” “Jesusjudge,” and “Killer Killer Fuzz.”

#4. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Chasing Yesterday (Sour Mash).
Whatever his issues (and maybe because of them) Noel writes fucking great songs. There are some real beauties on here (as per usual).

#5. Lord Huron, Strange Trails (IAMSound).
I overlooked this CD for too long. I had heard “Dead Man’s Hand” and loved it and quickly passed thru some of the other tunes. Later, when I was able to spend more time with the CD, I realized just how great the song crafting is. Beautifully written, the entire CD is subtle and lush.

#6. The Helio Sequence, The Helio Sequence (Sub Pop).
A very pretty release from this band and their strongest collection yet. Mostly mellow, pretty, atmospheric tunes coupled with good song writing—a great release. Check out “Battle Lines,” “Red Shifting,” and “Leave Or Be Yours.”

#7. Paul Weller, Saturns Pattern” (Warner-Parlaphone).
Here’s a guy who continues to consistently put out quality tunes by the buttload. He is alternative-rock royalty. We shall all pay our allegiance.

#8. Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion, Freedom Tower No Wave Dance Party 2015 (Mom + Pop).
I think this is their most accessible CD to date. It is certainly my favorite. It sounds like they have relaxed their past pretense and had fun on this record.

#9. Dead Weather, Dodge And Burn (Third Man).
They never disappoint. Dodge And Burn = great!

#10. Clutch, Psychic Warfare” (Weathermaker).
Sigh…cute? No. Cuddly? No. But, I still want to hold each band member in my arms and hug them. Mostly just to make sure they are okay. This is simply one of the most important bands in our time.

#11. Killing Joke, Pylon—Deluxe Edition (Spinefarm).
This 2015 release by this long-term band is an awesome hard-driving package of tunes that will literally shift your ear wax.

#12. Cage The Elephant, Tell Me I’m Pretty” (RCA).
Caution: This is a pop CD. I really like this band, but it is pop thru and thru.

#13. Wolf Alice, My Love Is Cool (RCA).
Great release from a fairly new band. They previously were tour mates with The 1975 (a band I do not get), but I do like these guys.

#14. Beach House, Depression Cherry (Sub Pop).
Beach House put out two CDs this year. They really should have thrown some tunes out and only put forward one CD. It would have been better, stronger, and enough. Depression Cherry is the better of the two.

#15. New Order, Music Complete (Mute).
Surprisingly solid release from an old school band. Some songs are not as strong as others, but the good tunes are worth a listen.

#16. Vetiver, Complete Strangers (10 Spot).
I loved their last two CDs. Vetiver’s 2015 release is a little less strong. Mellow and lovely, a tuneful salve to soothe the soul.

#17. Mikal Cronin, MCIII (Merge).
I’m not sure if his name is pronounced “Michael” or “Mick-kale,” but his CD is great. This isn’t Mikal’s first CD, but I sure am looking forward to more music from this guy in the future.

#18. A Place To Bury Strangers, Transfixiation (Dead Oceans).
Transfixiation contains APTBS’s usual wall of sound, but it is their most easily listened to record in their catalog.

#19. Soko, My Dreams Dictate My Reality (Baby Cat). I don’t think I would have heard about this artist/CD if not for my friend, Colonel Kurtz of the Apocalypse Radio Show on krfcfm.org. This is a great release, and Soko entertains some special guests on it as well.

#20. Best Coast, California Nights (Harvest). Beautiful jangle pop that begs to be played loud while driving down the street with your car windows open. Don’t worry about the cold weather, this CD will warm you right up.

Honorable Mentions:
Sleater-Kinney, No Cities To Love (Sub Pop).
I am going to be honest here. I am not a real big fan of this band. I find Corin Tucker’s voice a bit grating after awhile, but I do love what she is saying. This record contains some Great song writing—some of the smartest of the year for sure. “No Cities To Love” is incredibly important and current. I remain blown away.

Gin Wigmore, Blood To Bone (Island).
This CD didn’t make it on my Top 20, but it came so close. I felt strongly however about giving this CD a mention, because I think there is real talent here—strong voiced, good songwriting. It is totally worth picking up. Check out “Written In The Water.”

Stereophonics, Keep The Village Alive (Ignition).
POP. The Stereophonics’s new release is sooooo pop-y. But I can’t help it…I do love them.

Elvis Depressedly, New Alhambra (Run For Cover).
This is my favorite name for an artist this year. This is an atmospheric gem of a CD that begs multiple listens. It has some great songwriting too.

Best Compilation:
Physical Graffiti Redrawn (MOJO).
This collection is incredible cover of the famous and classic Led Zeppelin album. Check out Rose Windows amazing cover of “The Wanton Song,” White Denim’s “Custard Pie,” and Blackberry Smoke’s “The Rover.” All of them are incredible!

Most Refreshing Release:
Soundtrack to Amy.
From the biopic on Amy Winehouse. It contains remastered classics and b-sides that sound better than ever.

Most Brave Release:
Neil Young & Promise Of The Deal, The Monsanto Years (Reprise).
Taking on the GMO/Round-Up giant takes balls and Neil and friends has got them! Great record that doubles as a crash course on where all that crap food comes from and why our bees are dying.

Most disappointing Releases:
Zella Day, Kicker (Pinetop).
Let me begin by saying that I love this young lady. Her EP releases were among my favorite tunes—great little pop gems. I was quite excited when the full CD came out, because I was expecting many more gems. The songwriting is good, but with such strong songs like “Sweet Ophelia” and “Hypnotic,” it makes many of the other tunes on the CD pale in comparison. I will still anxiously await her next release. I think she has “it”!

Adele, 25 (Columbia). Now, before you poop your pants, let me explain. It is a good record. Adele is incredibly talented and I do love her. However, I do feel like “Hello” is a bit of a redundant tune. The song has very familiar hooks from some of the tunes on her last CD. I also wanted to hear something a little different than ballads. Her talent is endless, so why not do something a little different to mix it up. Maybe on the next one…. 27?


Beert:

2015 had some really bright spots, and I want to shine their light for you....

The Atomic Whirl/Olenka & The Autumn Lovers.
This past summer, my doom band, Corundum, was booked to play a show at the old Crystal Caverns Cave in the Black Hills. The cave is now closed as a tourist attraction. The family who owns the land uses the former gift shop/cave entrance as a place to hold donation only shows. We heard that the Japanese noisecore band, The Atomic Whirl, were scheduled to play. I was all for this...doom and noise can go hand in hand. We found out that there were two other out of town bands playing (The Brooklyn Queens and a mystery band from Canada).

The day of the show, I was informed that 3 of our 4 guitar players couldn’t make it. While this was disheartening, it did hold some small relief, as I think we would have deafened a lot of kids that night in that small room. I don’t even think all 7 of us would have fit (4 guitars, 2 drummers, and a bass) in the room.

The show started with Crook E. Lective, a local punk/dance band. These kids were a lot of fun and brought something different to the scene. I really, really enjoyed their set.

Up next was Olenka & The Autumn Lovers. They currently hail from Vancouver, British Columbia. They play a folksy/country/western European blend. I was in awe. These kids were very good. I drank in every note. And, regardless of the issues with the amplified vocals, they hooked me in. I have proceeded to purchase all of their releases, and I plan on doing a review of everything I have in the near future.

Brooklyn Queens was up after Olenka & The Autumn Lovers. They were good, but didn’t really draw me in with their electronic/industrial-ish sound. I’m not sure how to describe it. They relied heavily on being plugged in to the PA, and the PA continued to act up and cut out. Maybe if I had the full effect of every nuance of the band I would be more into it.

We played next and muddled through. Normally I have 3 other much better guitarists to cover my mistakes. This time it was me alone with 3 very talented musicians playing along side me.

The Atomic Whirl ended the night. They are a two-piece band from Japan. They were billed as noise, but they were much more. They were very tight and heavy. I fell in love with their sound. They ended the night stating they want to come back to Rapid City and they want to play the cave again. I hope we get asked to play with them again.

This was one of the best small local shows of the year. I discovered 2 great bands that night, and I’m glad I did.

Acid King in Denver.
This past year, I reconnected with an old friend. He came out to visit me in South Dakota in July, and he really liked the area. He was looking for an excuse to come back out again, and I found the perfect reason. Acid King was going to be at the Hi-Dive in Denver on November 1. I was going to be back in Illinois in October (where I grew up and he currently lives), and I suggested I give him a ride back to South Dakota. We’d hang out for a couple days, then we’d take a road trip to Denver to see Acid King, and he could fly home from there.

It was set. We planned it all out, and as luck would have it, another friend I have known from 2000 on had recently moved to Denver and he offered us a place stay. He was within walking/stumbling distance of the Hi-Dive, and he and his lady-friend would love to attend the show with us.

We made it to Denver in the afternoon, hooked up with my friend, and we were taken to Abyssinia, the Ethiopian restaurant. A great pre-show meal with 8 dishes on the sampler! After dinner we visited TRVE Brewing, and enjoyed many delicious craft beers while Black Metal and satanic imagery kept us company.

Full of food and drink, we walked the two blocks to the Hi-Dive and were blown away by Acid King. They were so heavy, so tight, so ethereal, and so perfect. I danced the night away making slow head nods with my eyes closed. It was a phenomenal aural sensation. It was all I could have hoped for.

Those are my highlights of 2015. I did not buy a lot of new music. I continue to keep Pears, Poney, Romero, Acid King, and Olenka & The Autumn Lovers on heavy rotation, with a heaping helping of Off With Their Heads as well.


Class Warrior:

As usual, my list contains a mix of new stuff and other music I listened to the most this year.

Visigoth, The Revenant King (2015).
These metalheads have re-raised the fist of early eighties sword-and-sorcery metal! I could not be happier! They bring to mind Omen’s first album, early Manilla Road (who they cover on here righteously), and maybe a slight dash of Manowar. Jake’s voice is well suited to this type of metal. My favorite track on here is called “Dungeon Master,” which is a thinly veiled allusion to the person who sits behind the screen on weekend nights, creating fantasy worlds and adventures for a band of medieval heroes. It would be fabulous to roll the polyhedral dice with these fellows. This is certainly my favorite metal release of 2015.

This song goes out to my own dungeon master—my brother Overlord T-Bone (a.k.a. Terry Warrior).



Ghost, Meloria (2015).
What the fuck happened to this band? This and their previous album were so disappointing. Their first record is one of my top ten favorite metal albums of all time. This just sounds like a collection of pop songs to me. I think the genre (70s retro metal) is getting a little tired—this (and some efforts from other bands not mentioned here) are making me think this sound has run its course. Maybe I’m missing something (both from 70s retro metal in general and this release in particular), though. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Lucifer,
Lucifer I (2015).
What the fuck? Hasn’t some other band taken the name Lucifer by now? I mean, come on! Allmusic tells me that this isn’t so, so I guess it belongs to this relatively new band. I don’t believe this. Someone had to be called Lucifer at some point in time! Finding a name like this has to be a great feeling for a band—a perfect metal band name that, for some reason, no one has touched before. Maybe there was some kind of metal groupthink that we’ve all experienced for the last several decades that caused us to save this name for these folks. Regardless, this is solid shit. Retro doom metal with super melodic vocals supplied by Johanna Sadonis (formerly of The Oath, which probably means nothing to anyone reading this). The tunes are well constructed. I dig this, despite the unclaimed/generic name. There had to have been an obscure NWOBHM band with this name.

Blyth Power,
Women and Horses, Power and War (2015).
This band has been playing music for thirty years. Joseph Porter, the only constant member of the band, has kept it as consistent as possible over this time. This effort is just fine. Perhaps more background-musicky than I would like, but very pleasant. Perhaps this is what punk rock gone adult contemporary sounds like. I don’t care. It’s still good stuff.

Wooden Stake,
A Feast of Virgin Souls (2015).
I put an album of theirs on last year’s list. Little has changed in their formula (black/doom metal). The songs are tighter, for sure, but they weren’t exactly sloppy before. Vanessa still trades off singing in her wonderful “clean” voice and the ultra-harsh goblin growls. I still prefer the former. If Vanessa sang rather than growled for the entirety of this album, it would be one of my favorites of the past few years, rather than something I can only listen to for a couple of songs at a time. The theme of the album is the very tired Countess Bathory story—beware. As you can tell, I am conflicted about this band.

Terrible Feelings,
Shadows (2015).
I thought I was done with this band, but they came back strong with this effort. These Swedish punks still live in a world of dark melancholy, but this time they channel the alt-country/western influences into some solid rockin’ out, especially the nifty guitar leads (like in the first song “Cold Eyes”). Manuela’s voice is incredibly expressive. I still think that if this band was from the United States they would be huge here. My only complaint is that the label only put this out on vinyl and digital download. I wonder what the difference is in the environmental impact of vinyl, CDs, and digital music in the “cloud”? I wouldn’t be surprised if CDs came out looking better in this equation. To hell with it— we should all just play live music to entertain ourselves! And you don’t need a beer glass. Put your two hands together and you have the cup Mother Nature intended for you.

Red Dons,
The Dead Hand of Tradition (2015).
I was pleasantly surprised by this record. I’ve heard their previous stuff and was not terribly moved by it, but they’re getting really good at what they do. Very solid punk rock with plenty of Naked Raygun-style whoa-oh singalong parts. After hearing this it did not surprise me at all that part of the band has relocated to Chicago. It’s a really good album, everyone! Go buy it!

The Stops,
Nameless Faces (2015).
This is straightforward, interesting melodic punk rock delivered by an all-female band (why don’t we ever say a band is all-male? I will make a point of doing this in the future when appropriate) from PDX. There’s plenty of grit to go along with the melody. I’ve only had a chance to listen to this once, but I am sure I’ll be cranking this quite a bit in 2016.

Neighborhood Brats,
Recovery (2014).
High-energy mid- to fast-tempo punk rock. There’s nothing particularly new or groundbreaking about this band’s sound, other than the fact that, in the history of humanity, no one else has combined musical notes and vocals in this particular arrangement before. I’m not selling this album very well, I realize. It’s good! Trust me! It’s damn hard to have a straightforward punk record in 2015 that sounds like no one else has ever sounded. Punk is almost forty years old! When you have three chords and two-minute song structures, there are only so many different ways to combine these in ways that both sound good and sound punk. I don’t mind. Do you?

No More Art,
Sorrows of Youth (2014).
Unfortunately, this band is no longer among the living. This was an excellent parting statement, though. It is a fine rockin’ punk album with minimally distorted guitars, mostly sung (as opposed to shouted/growled) vocals courtesy of Milo, and mid-tempo melodic tunes. For you Portland people out there, it sort of reminds me of the Red Dons (taking it easy on the distortion pedal) with female vocals. This could be due to the fact that the bands shared guitarist Will Kinser (which is no longer the case). You could do worse, but you’d have a hard time doing better! It’s a great formula. Mostly the lyrics are personal—I much prefer overt political stuff with punk rock—but a) not every band needs to be a carbon copy of what I’d most prefer, and b) I’m old and somewhat wise enough to know that I should read between the lines with seemingly personal lyrics. Sometimes some deeper meaning is there. What about here? You be the judge, my friend.

TV Smith and Red Dons,
A Vote for the Unknown / This City 7” (2014).
Two great songs with TV Smith on vocals backed by Red Dons (see above). TV Smith’s vocals are a raspy perfection on these tracks. Good to hear him with a talented band behind him. You can find this on the Red Dons’ Bandcamp site if you don’t want to buy the vinyl.

Crusades,
The Sun Is Down and The Night Is Riding In (2011).
You like punk rock, friend? How about vocal harmonies, motherfucker? Perhaps anti-religious lyrics, dude? Here you go! Fuck yeah! I am all over this. This all-male band delivers the harmonies like Bad Religion at choir practice. I am blown away by this record. How did I only hear this a few days ago? I’m going to buy a t-shirt!

Kreator, all their post-2000 records (
Violent Revolution, Enemy of God, Hordes of Chaos, Phantom Antichrist).
I’m not a big fan of thrash, but I love Kreator. These dudes get better with age. Their songs are as tight as a pair of spandex pants, which these guys would never wear. Mille’s vocals are better now than in their eighties glory years. This all-male band’s musicianship is wonderful. The lyrics are thoughtful, interesting, and often left-wing (from sort of a fuck-shit-up perspective). They’re warning us that barbarism is around the corner unless we get off our asses. Fuck Slayer. Kreator is
the thrash band.

Running Wild,
Under Jolly Roger (1987).
I have to tell this story. A few years ago I was in a meeting at my university about some very serious shit—probably about teaching or something. I don’t remember. I unwisely checked my email and saw that I had received something from SoDak. He and I email back and forth quite often. (Someone needs to collect, edit, and publish these, but that’s another subject.) He and I had been talking about Running Wild. In the email in question, he told me that, when the
Under Jolly Roger album came out, he and friends teased another friend that “Under Jolly Roger” referred to sexual relations between the friend’s mother and father (the dad was named Roger). I misread this—I thought SoDak had told me that his friend was named Roger, and that the friend was sexing up his mom. Well, first I giggled. Then I chuckled. Then I couldn’t control it anymore. I was laughing so hard that tears were streaming from my eyes as I tried to hold it all together. I had to leave the meeting. Probably everyone thought I had heard some bad news or something. It took me ten full minutes to get control of myself. I didn’t go back to the meeting. Fuck meetings.

Candlemass,
Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (1986).
Excellent. If I have to tell you the genre of this music, you are a dumbass. Or maybe you never learned any Latin, dumbass. (Sorry for the insults, friend.) I especially like the first song “Solitude.” The singer says “please let me die in solitude,” but I wish I could change it to “please let me die a solid dude.” That’s really all we can ask of ourselves when the day is done. The struggle is the point.

Bruce Springsteen,
Nebraska (1982).
My friend Trudy encouraged me to listen to this. I don’t know why I haven’t before. Inertia, or something. Well, I’m glad I did. This album is incredibly moving. Nothing but Bruce, an acoustic guitar, and a harmonica. Wow. Songs like “Atlantic City” capture working-class desperation so well. It sounded as fresh to me in 2015 as it undoubtedly did in 1982. This is the kind of music I’ve been wanting to hear. Why didn’t I realize that it was right under my nose this whole time?

Discharge,
Why?, Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing, and the first five 7 inch records (1980-1982).
I had to throw these onto the list because I listened to them a ton this year. I’ve enjoyed these records for many years now, but I keep coming back to them for their straightforward, fast, angry, abrasive, simple, passionate songs. A sound that is often imitated, but no one has equaled the masters. This means much more to me than Crass ever did (not that we should get hung up on comparing them—but I can listen to Discharge all day, while I have a lot of trouble getting through a few Crass songs). Their haiku-like lyrics are beautiful in their own way. These songs are furious anti-war and anti-capitalist statements. They are probably my favorite British punk band of all time. Unless I’m listening to GBH or Icons of Filth, in which case we have a tie on our hands.

Journey,
Journey’s Greatest Hits (1988).
This is fine. You like this. Pull it out of your collection (or any of their full albums you have on hand) and listen to it again. Sing along if you want. No one will care. These songs will make the day a little easier for you.


Dave:

(Is at band practice and preparing for next term.)


Five-Inch Taint:

(Is planning a wedding.)


Gusty Bellows:
Unwound, all the vinyl re-releases on Numero Records.
The last of them should be released this year.

High on Fire, Luminiferous (E1 Music, 2015).
One of their best. Sold from start to finish.

Lightning Bolt, Fantasy Empire (Thrill Jockey, 2015).

Built to Spill, Untethered Moon (Warner Bros., 2015).
Great return to form from these guys.

Fuzz, II (In The Red, 2015).

Viet Cong, Viet Cong (Jagjaguwar, 2015).

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Night Creeper (Rise Above, 2015).

Ceremony, L Shaped Man (Matador, 2015),

Jim O’Rourke, Simple Songs (Drag City)
Even though I’ve only heard two songs, I’m sure the rest is awesome.

Color of Noise, dvd/blu-ray (MVD Entertainment)
Awesome viewing of a great person and fantastic label (Amphetamine Reptile records).

My favorite concerts this year:
Drive Like Jehu in Denver
Built to Spill (word of mouth show) in Fort Collins.

Albums I wish I heard this year:
Metz, II.
Battles, La Di Da Di Da.
Gang of Four, What Happens Next.


Jimmy “Explosive Diarrehea” B:

Records – in no order whatsoever

John Hiatt – Crossing Muddy Waters (2000): I have been a Hiatt fan for the past decade. As a song writer, John is hard to beat. Crossing Muddy Waters is a bit bluesier than most of Hiatt’s other records. There are songs on this album that appeal to me for both their aesthetic values and also the feelings they invoke.

Valerie June – Pushin’ Against a Stone (2013): Everything I just said about John Hiatt’s album, Crossing Muddy Waters, also applies to Pushin’ Against a Stone. I picked up this record because I saw Billy Bragg gushing about June’s talent in an interview. Mister Bragg, I owe you; Valerie June is amazing.

UFO - UFO2 Flying One Hour Space Rock (1971): I always considered UFO a one hit wonder without any hits. In other words, they had a few good songs, but crappy albums. SoDak convinced me to give their first two albums a try; he was right. UFO2 is a krautrock classic. If you like the more psychedelic krautrock albums from the 1970s, you need to check out UFO2.

Gojira – From Mars to Sirius (2005): It is odd that I have been a diehard metal fan for thirty years, but was unfamiliar with Gojira. I have not yet heard Gojira’s older releases, but I have been told they played a brutal style of metal (like Slayer?). From Mars to Sirius has more in common with Cynic than with Slayer. It is technical and progressive metal.

John T. Pearson - Last of the Country Gentlemen (2011): I am not going to say much about this album, except that Pearson is a great song writer, and the songs are emotionally charged. Check out the video below.





Norska – Norska (2012): I remember attending Norska shows with Dave six or seven years ago, and not being impressed by the Portland, Oregon band. The band’s self-titled record has changed my mind, and I anxiously await their new album. Norska plays what I have (probably incorrectly) come to think of as the Portland metal sound which incorporates sludge and doom. I haven’t been this excited about a Portland band since I first heard Paranaut.

Steve Earle and the Dukes – Terraplane (2015): I have to admit that I have never been a big Earle fan. I liked a few of his well-known songs, like "Copper Head Road," and I appreciate his politics, but I never sat down and gave his material a serious listen. Mrs. Explosive Diarrhea and I attended a Steve Earle concert a few months ago. I loved the material from his new album so much that I purchased it within minutes of arriving home from the show. According to Steve, this is the first blues album he has done. And what an album it is – this fucking record is stunning.

Goat: I bought Goat’s entire discography in 2015. Do you ever listen to a record, and immediately start jonesing for more? That is exactly what I felt after listening to Goat. Goat is a strange band. They seem to be promoting visual art, much like Ghost BC. But they are also exceptionally talented composers/musicians. They mix pop with a northern African sound that reminds me of Tinariwen. I have no idea what to call what they do, but it is brilliant.

J Mascis – Tied to a Star (2014): I avoided Tied to a Star after its release due to my mixed feelings about Dinosaur Jr., a band I never warmed up to. I expected Mascis’s solo release to either sound like DJ or his Heavy Blanket project (a great project, by the way). To my surprise, this folkish album bears no relationship to DJ. Mascis created a musically spacious and emotional album; it blew me away.

Blaze Bayley and Thomas ZwijsenRussian Holiday (2013): This is another record where I had very low expectations. Bayley’s non-Maiden work tends to be hit or miss. Russian Holiday was without a doubt my biggest surprise of 2015, and my favorite Bayley record – including the Iron Maiden albums – to date. This record places Bayley in a position where he really doesn’t belong – as a pop and/or folk vocalist. But it works, and works exceptionally well. I cannot explain why, but Bayley reminds me of Marianne Faithful on this record - possibly because the vocals are out of place, but somehow it all comes together.

My Sleeping karma – Moksha (2015): Moksha is the only 2015 released album on my list. I am a sucker for droning atmospheric rock. My Sleeping Karma fits the bill. If you like Sleep or Om, check them out.

Other year-end miscellanea:

Rush concert - Portland, Oregon. I wasn’t planning to see Rush this past summer, as I was already planning to spend cash on Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath tickets in early 2016. My Friend Chris talked me into it, and our mutual friend Don was able to obtain cheapish tickets for us. I am glad I went. I have seen Rush before, but there was something magical about seeing them this time, and it wasn’t due to the finality of this show and tour (this may be the last time I will ever get to see them). It was a combination of a great crowd, great set list, great musicianship, and the band's great sense of humor. There will never be another band like Rush.

Disenchanter (multiple shows) Portland, Oregon: Disenchanter is a Portland band who seems to play out in a small club every weekend. I saw them approximately six times in 2015. The band is quite good, and they are extremely nice people who put on a great show. But, for me it was a chance to hang out with Dave and other music loving friends.

Keith Richards – Life (2011): Nobody has ever made me feel dirty for kind of liking him/her before until I read Keith Richards's book Life. I have a tendency to dislike artists after I read their biographies, Warren Zevon, for example. I found myself liking Richards for being real and unpretentious about being an asshole. Keith Richards, the man you see on stage and in interviews, is the real deal. He is everything you think he is, but is also humble. He got to me (in a good way) when he stated that he didn’t trust anyone who grew up in detached housing – Richards has poor, working-class roots that influenced the rawness of both the music and the man, and for that he should be celebrated.

The Wrecking Crew documentary film (2015): I learned more about the music business watching this film than from every book and band interview I ever read combined.


Kloghole:
Well, the blood in my eyes is the rage of centuries.

I have grown tired over the years. Looking back over my last few year-end lists, I know exactly why I am so tired. The old adage that “if your are not angry, you are not paying attention” probably tells me I have been paying too much attention.

Lately, I have felt I have spent my entire life clawing my way out of my own grave. As I scratched my way skyward, there are assholes throwing more dirt on top of me. If I get too close to erupting into the daylight, I receive a solid thwack across the skull with a shovel.

But, everything is relative.

As Venezuela descends back into a neoliberal debacle, the misery of the people will blossom like a terrifying nightmare. Nearing the end of one of my classes this semester, I prompted students to think about how the powerful try to crush a progressive government in a poor nation. We discussed controlling media, undercutting the price of their exports, withholding investment, and deliberately withholding inventory in businesses to drive up prices. As I watched Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela all suffer the consequences of pursuing an alternative strategy to getting fucked by the super-rich, I could see the writing on the wall. I hate being right. I feel for those in other regions of the world where they have to suffer the deprivation of colonial exploitation. My family has lived the working-class experience, but we have privilege that goes unrecognized sometimes.

Part of that privilege is music. I had a bit of extra money at the end of the year, so I bought myself a little gift. It has been nearly 30 years since I bought a set of speakers. Nothing special, but at least I have more than one functioning woofer out of four speakers. Music is bit more enjoyable when you get a better separation of the sounds and have a hint of what the artists were attempting to create.

For some reason, I ended up with new music from this year. There is nothing unexpected in the list, but decent contributions from some old standards.

Iron Maiden, The Book of Souls (Sanctuary, 2015).
At this point in their career, Iron Maiden can engage in a little self-indulgence without risking ending their career prematurely. They are so near the end, they could just retire if they really screwed up. Because they have some extended tracks, they bumped this one up to two disks. If you like the later Iron Maiden, this album will be right up your alley.

Lamb of God, VII: Sturm Und Drang (Epic Records, 2015).
To be honest, I cannot remember this album. I really dug their stuff at one point a while back, but I am just not there right now. Perhaps, I will sit down and really give this a good listen at some point. I think I need to get in the mood to soak it in.

Motorhead, Bad Magic (UDR GmbH, 2015).
I dig this album. I have played it a few times as background while doing work, and it has a nice Motorhead heaviness to it. Right now, nothing is really jumping out at me, but maybe after I am able to really listen to it.

Slayer, Repentless (Nuclear Blast Records, 2015).
Slayer is Slayer. What can you say?

Steve Earle, Terraplane (New West Records, 2015).
All of Earle’s newer stuff is blending together for me. This one has the characteristic Earle sound, but is rooted in a bluesy rhythm and beat. It is a nice listen.

I also picked up some other music this year.

I picked up COC’s IX (Candlelight Records 2014), and I like it better than the previous album. For some reason, “Tarquinius Superbus” and “Denmark Vesey” stand out for me. It may be that they repeat the titles endlessly, but they still stick with me.

I also got a shitpot full of alt country like John Prine, Lucinda Williams, Reckless Kelly, and Robert Earl Keen. I also picked up James McMurtry Complicated Game (Short Trip Music, BMI, 2015). I like this album. I gave it a few listens, and it has a strong consistency to it. There are songs from previous albums that grab me more, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable album. SoDak praised it, but I think he really digs it because it has a song titled “South Dakota.”

Another notable one was suggested by SoDak, Jamey Johnson, The Guitar Song - White Album/Black Album (Mercury Records, 2010). It has some pretty dark shit on it, and “Poor Man Blues” hits the nail right on the head.

I picked up my first Rick James, bitch! It was just sitting there in the recent arrivals bin, crying out to me. I got it ‘cause it had “Superfreak,” but the hidden gem was “Mr. Policeman.” It was almost too much given all the shit going down. “Every time you show your face, somebody dies, man.” Street Songs (Motown Record Company, 1981)

I grabbed the Duane Allman Anthology 2 (PolyGram Records 1972). Totally worth it. These anthologies are really collections of some diverse artists and music all touched by Duane’s distinct playing. I would suggest picking these up if you want some eclectic selections. These are not albums of number one hits, but a bunch of shit Duane played on.

Sweet Dreams Motherfuckers!


Null:

I have a pretty short list this year. Other than my usual reoccurring obsessions, this is what I got excited about this year.

1. The Rolling Stones
It has been quite a while since I pulled out my Rolling Stones records. Sometimes I forget how good they used to be. There is something to enjoy from all their various periods: the early Chuck Berry years (64 - 67), the perfection of the late 1960s (68 -69), the early 70s soul-drugged out years (71 – 72), the depressing come down years (73 – 74), the “we might as well be drugged out and depressed in the Caribbean” years (76 -80). Through all these periods there is something to sink your teeth into. I realized how much I had internalized these records as a teenager while I was devouring punk rock. The music is actually quite creative, the lyrics are often surprisingly good, and Richards is a much more unusual guitarist than people often recognize. There is even something interesting in the tired, spoiled, millionaire, worn out years of the late 70s even though it feels like they are painting by numbers at this period. Analogue recordings were still alive and well—warmth that is missing from much recorded music these days. It may be the element that redeems the spent Stones. The other weird thing I realized is that, ironically, the Stones had a much more working-class sentiment than the Beatles ever had. From time to time they are quite explicit about it. Despite all the sexism, limousines, and drug-star clich├ęs—they were a really great band.



2. Beach Slang
The first 2 EPs are brilliant:
Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken? (Dead Broke, 2014)
Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street (Tiny Engines, 2014)

The first full-length album doesn’t disappoint:
The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us (Polyvinyl Records, 2015)

These guys are romantic, melodramatic, celebratory, and urgent. They are palpitating heart punk rockers in love staring at gravestones. It doesn’t matter if we are tuned up—just turn it up. This band sounds like what I have felt like every day since I can remember being alive. They are possibly the sons of Superchunk and The Smiths.
There is still blood pumping through hearts in a dead world:
“No, these streets don’t feel like love
they’re not hungry or wild enough.
It’s a dead end town for trash like us,
but I got a full tank and a couple of bucks.
I mean, I never got nothing
and I never want much,
but man we’ve gotta get out.
No, these streets ain’t got no guts.
They’re like sad sex with clumsy tongues.
It’s a battlefield for restless punks,
and the cops are jocks and all that junk.
We just want to read our books and turn out stereos up.
Man, we’ve got to get out.
There’s a light on those filthy streets
where the throwaways get weird and free.
Are you with me?
Does it cut you enough?
There’s a time to bleed
and a time just to fucking run.”



3. M’Lady’s Records’s ongoing releases of the Dead Moon original LPs onto CD.
Keep ‘em comin’.

From the M’Lady’s  Records Website:

MLADYS 14-18—DEAD MOON, STRANDED IN THE MYSTERY ZONE, STRANGE PRAY TELL, IN THE GRAVEYARD, UNKNOWN PASSAGE, DEFIANCE CDs
$8 each or all five for only $30!
DEAD MOON! Our reissue series fires up again with the release of 1991's STRANDED IN THE MYSTERY ZONE and 1992’s STRANGE PRAY TELL. Three more to follow this autumn (Crack in the System, Nervous Sooner Changes, and Trash & Burn) and still more next year. All five titles available in a bundle, or individually. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION. FIRE IN THE WESTERN WORLD!



4. Ryan Adams, 1989 (PAX-AM, 2015)
When I heard Ryan Adams was going to cover Tylor Swift’s 1989 in its entirety, I wasn’t          sure what to think. It seemed like a cheap move to cover the most popular record in the land; however, Ryan is known for taking other people’s songs, whether Dio’s “Holy Diver” or The Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance,” and turning them into wonderful acoustic ballads. I never interpreted this as a cheap shot in the past, because I genuinely believe Ryan loves the music. Let’s face it; his acoustic ballad of Iron Maiden’s “Wasted Years” was one of the best things he has done of late, as he meandered off into Indie-Ville ambiguity. What intrigued me even more was that he was attempting to record the record in a “Smiths-like” style. Think lots of “Johnny Marr arpeggiation.”

I must admit. I loved the album from the first listen—despite the fact that it feels like it is struggling to stay afloat amid an endlessly rising tide of reverb. It is a melancholy affair. Ryan brings a depth and longing to songs that sound very different coming from Miss Swift. Props to her, though. Behind the Diet Pepsi ads and Victoria Secret bullshit—she wrote some great songs for Ryan Adams to sing.

It seems that Ryan Adams began his life in music as one of our generation’s great songwriters to only transition to one of our generation’s greatest cover artists. We will have to wait and see if this remains the case.

It just goes to show that the same lines of a song can have very different meanings and mood given context and tone. This is one of the many things that continue to fascinate me about music.



5. Black Hills Vinyl Record Shop
Rapid City, South Dakota

I had to put this little record shop on my list, not just because it is a cool little place to buy new and used records, but also because it was there that I found two records I have been searching for. High Voltage and Southern Fried Rock were two K-Tel compilation albums that I had as a kid. I’m not saying they were necessarily good compilations but I have been trying to track them down for years with little or no luck. One sunny winter day I found them in Black Hills Vinyl. They were sitting right next to one another in the “various artists” bin. Weird.

6. OFF! and Bad Religion Live in Denver
I have seen Bad Religion live many times. They are one of my favorite bands and they never disappoint. I was super excited for this show because OFF! were opening. They were absolutely great! The band just kicked some serious hardcore punk and Keith was right on the mark.

When OFF! had finally imploded, Bad Religion came out for the first of a two night stay. Greg announced that, considering they were doing two nights, the first night they would play songs written pre-2000 and the second night they would play songs written post-2000. It would have been great to have tickets for both nights. It was great hearing tons of deep cuts from the earlier records. They even played “Hopeless Housewife.” It was a great show.

Scott:

(Is editing a book manuscript.)


SoDak:

Records:

Motorhead, Bad Magic (2015).
While not the best Motorhead record, it is solid. I wanted to see Motorhead perform several more times, knowing the chances were decreasing with Lemmy’s declining health. Unfortunately, this did not happen due to them canceling at Riot Fest. Lemmy died the day I am writing this. He was an original and created music until the end. Today, I am blasting “Electricity” from the most recent record.



Beach Slang, The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us (2015).
Null sent me videos to a couple of songs by Beach Slang, noting that the vocals had the urgency of good Superchunk songs. The next day, I saw their CD at the record shop, and figured what the hell. I love this record. It has a raw, reckless feel. To my ears, there is a strong Goo Goo Dolls, Leatherface, and Replacements sound to the vocals and music. Lyrically, Beach Slang captures some of the feeling that Gaslight Anthem has.

Whitey Morgan and the 78’s, Sonic Ranch (2015).
This is Whitey Morgan’s best record yet. It is ass-kickin’ honky tonk music with outlaw swagger. The ghost of Waylon is present in the guitar and voice. Of course, there are lots of songs about drinking, drugs, loneliness, love, and anger. Kloghole needs to buy this record. 

Daniel Romano, If I’ve Only One Time Askin’ (2015).
All of Daniel Romano records are solid, but this one is my favorite. He plays mid-tempo to slow country music, with beautiful melodies. His music fits between honky tonk and and countrypolitian. I play this record in the evenings while I sit on the porch, thinking about lost love and distant friends.

Jay William Henderson, The Sun Will Burn Our Eyes (2012).
Jay William Henderson was the singer for Band of Annuals—a band that broke up just before I moved to Salt Lake City. Damn, I really wanted to see them live. His solo records continue to capture his wonderful voice that stirs distant memories. In my opinion, The Sun Will Burn Our Eyes is the better of his two solo records. Check out the songs “Lonely Man” and “The Sun Will Burn Our Eyes.” Play these songs on repeat. Perfection.


Leona Williams, Yes, Ma'm, He Found Me In A Honky Tonk (Boxset, 2013).
I always liked the duets Leona Williams sang with Merle Haggard. This year, I decided to check out her solo work. These three CDs cover a wonderful part of her career, highlighting a range of country music vocal stylings. Leona’s voice on several songs sounds like it could have an inspiration for Neko Case.

Ceremony, The L-Shaped Man (2015).
I was standing in the record store this spring, when an album started playing that sounded like Joy Division and the Wire. I heard one song, bought the record, and then looked up information about the band. The record is very consistent as far as its sound. Check out “The Separation.” Great record.



James McMurtry, Complicated Game (2015).
I love James McMurtry. I started listening to him when his first record was released in 1989. I like the range of songs that he writes. I think Complicated Game is among his best records, taken as a whole. The record reminds me of home, not just because it has a song called “South Dakota,” but because of the stories. “Cooper Canteen” paints pictures of deer hunting season and winter. Makes me think of my father and his friends, stringing up a deer in the garage as they passed a bottle back and forth. Other songs include images of rusted cars and folks struggling.





Joe Ely, Panhandle Rambler (2015).
I love Joe Ely. He has had an amazing career and experimented with many styles within the Americana tradition. This record is filled with stories, love, and lament. Great singer-songwriter.

Guy Clark, Old No. 1 (1975) and Texas Cookin’ (1976)
This fall, I could not get enough of listening to Guy Clark. I pulled out his first two records and fell in love all over again with his song writing. It had been a few years since I had listened to them. The first album, Old No. 1, includes such classic songs as “L.A. Freeway,” “She Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” and “Desperados Waiting for the Train.” Guy Clark is a master songwriter. He is a treasure.



Tau Cross, Tau Cross (2015).
I bought this record simply because the band included members from Voivod and Amebix. This is a heavy, dark record. The songs reflect different influences. There are elements of Killing Joke on many songs. Very good. 

Baroness, Purple (2015).
I just picked up this record and listened to it, while driving across Wyoming. I really liked the songs “Shock Me” and “The Iron Bell.” Hope that it continues to resonate with me in the coming months.

Simone Felice, Strangers (2014).
Simone Felice used to be in the band The Felice Brothers. He has released two solid records, filled with folky rock songs. It is pretty somber record.

Sam Outlaw, Angeleno (2015).
Angeleno is a solid record that sounds like 1970s country rock out of California. I love listening to this record when I am driving down the mountains, heading home after spending the day hiking.

Mark Knopfler, Tracker (2015).
With each solo record, Mark Knopfler ventures further into storytelling and Americana influences. This is my favorite post-Dire Straits record by him.

Gregory Alan Isakov, The Weatherman (2013).
The Weatherman is Gregory Alan Isakov’s fifth record. He is quite consistent from record to record. He plays ballads that will appeal to fans of early Iron and Wine, William Fitzsimmons, and Great Lake Swimmers. This mellow music has fit my general mood this past fall.

Christian Kjellvander, The Pitcher (2013).
From time to time, I order a new Christian Kjellvander record. This Swedish singer-songwriter is reminiscent of Richard Buckner. Always an enjoyable listen.

Mandolin Orange, Such Jubilee (2015).
Beautiful male-female vocals that take me back to North Carolina. These straight-forward folk songs are like a warm blanket.

Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Squelch (2015).
There are not really any surprises on Jason Boland records. This artist and band play rowdy country music. They throw in some touching ballads on each record. Check out “I Guess It’s Alright to Be an Asshole” and “Heartland Bypass.”

Golden Void, Berkana (2015).
Just picked up this gem and have listened to it a couple of times. The guitar player from Earthless is in this band. The songs combine touches of psychedelic, prog, and hard rock to produce a wonderfully ethereal record. I am hooked on the song, “Dervishing.”



Concerts:
It was a good year for live music, given thirty-plus concerts and a few festivals.

Whitey Morgan.
Five-Inch Taint and I enjoyed the hell out of this honky-tonk show. The band was tight. The language was vulgar. The music was great.

Fred Eaglesmith.
Fred Eaglesmith is always great. He played in a Unitarian Church, but this did not stop him from being himself. It was fun to share this concert with Five-Inch Taint, Spooner D, and other friends. Fred is just as much of a comedian as an awesome songwriter.

Psycho California Festival.
Went to Santa Ana with Five-Inch Taint, Critter, and Rez to enjoy this festival. It was well organized. The crowd was energetic and cool. Some of my favorites were: Conan, Cave In, Municipal Waste, Eyehategod, Russian Circles, Pallbearer, Kylesa, Wo-Fat, Earthless, and Om.

Rush.
Classic band. Great set list. Absolutely wonderful.

Jason Isbell.
Jason is great every time. He is on a roll. This evening, he asked someone in the crowd to stop videotaping the performance, noting that he would enjoy the show much more without being taped. It was a great moment.

System of a Down at Riot Fest.
This was the first time I was able to see System. The crowd was huge and singing along on every song—if only this energy and sentiment was carried over into revolutionary action.

Joe Hill Centennial Celebration.
This year marked the 100th anniversary since Joe Hill was executed. A concert in the park was sponsored by labor unions. Family members and radical folk singers shared stories and songs.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats.
I like their records, but they blew me away with their live performance. The duo vocals are awesome.

Dale Watson.
Dale Watson puts on a great country music show. He picked his first song and played requests the rest of the night. Outstanding.

Ghost.
I really like their first record and was lukewarm regarding the second. Had been wanting to see Ghost play, especially after Jimmy “Explosive Diarrehea” B saw them a few years ago. The live show was great. My wife became obsessed with the band after seeing them. They rocked much more than I was anticipating, which made the songs on the third record more interesting to me. It was fun and captivating, especially being right upfront.

Sturgill Simpson.
Finally got to see Sturgill Simpson this year. Five-Inch Taint, Spooner D, and I stood right at the front of the stage. The lead guitar player was awesome. Sturgill’s voice was excellent. They rocked. The crowd was good overall, except for a brawl between a couple folks, which included choking. Nevertheless, great.

Friends of Cesar Romero.
I love it when there is a show in Rapid City, when I am visiting friends and family. The last two times I have visited, Friends of Cesar Romero have played. This melodic punk rock kicks ass with catchy songs and great energy.

Documentaries:

Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory (2014).
I put off seeing this film, even though I wanted to see it. My father had a very long decline due to dementia. I knew that the subject of the film would hit home. Oliver Sacks wrote, “The past, which is not recoverable in any other way, is embedded, as if in amber…and people can regain a sense of identity with familiar music.” This is a remarkable film about how music enlivens individuals who too often are left to degenerate within elderly facilities across this country. The film is worth it just to watch the first non-communicative individual become animated when listening to music that he loved. Beautiful film.

Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me (2014).
This interesting film follows Glen Campbell on this final tour, as he dealt with the degenerative effects of Alzheimer’s. Glen Campbell’s daughter Ashley Campbell sings a great song called “Remembering” that fucks me up.

Beware of Mr. Bakker (2012).
This is a fascinating film about Ginger Baker, the drummer for bands such as Cream and Blind Faith. He is nasty, hits the filmmaker with a cane, and insults many folks. Nevertheless, this is quite an engrossing film.

What Happened, Nina Simone (2015).
This is a great biography film, highlighting Nina Simone’s life and career. I wish there were more films like this. I was particularly pleased by the frankness of Nina’s political position at many points during her career.

Mama Africa (2011).
Many years ago, dear friends introduced me to the music of South African singer Miriam Makeba. This year, I was pleased to see several films that focus on political singers, who promoted justice, fought against racism, and criticized colonialism.

Mercedes Sosa: The Voice of Latin America (2013).
In the 1990s, friends from Argentina introduced me to the music of Mercedes Sosa. I remember how fondly and passionately they talked about her. They gave me several Sosa CDs, which I listen to each year. This film helps me contextualize Sosa and her art. Like Miriam Makeba she used music to speak out against injustice. She was also a major figure throughout the Americas.

Finding Fela (2014).
This documentary combines a story of Fela’s life with the production of a Broadway performance about his life. The film highlights the revolutionary and anti-colonial positions of Fela.

The Wrecking Crew (2015).
This is an excellent documentary about studio musicians in California, who played on the most of the pop and rock hits throughout the 1960s and 70s. Combine this film with the documentaries Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, Standing in the Shadows of Motown, and Muscle Shoals, we have four groups of musicians in different studios who recorded most of the legendary rock and soul songs. I wish there are a film about country studio musicians, as it would complete much of American music during this period. Anyhow, The Wrecking Crew is an outstanding film with great characters.

Do It Yourself: The Story of Rough Trade Records (2008).
I had to watch this film on Youtube. The film presents the efforts of a small group of friends who created an independent label and initially tried to maintain some form of radical politics within the larger record industry. There are great stories about new wave and punk bands, who released their earliest records on Rough Trade.

Radio Unnameable (2012).
This film explores the intersection of music and politics at a community radio station in New York City. I wish there were more radio stations and DJs like this across the country.

Sonic Highways (2014).
I do not really know the music of the Foo Fighters. I am sure that I have heard some songs here and there, but they have never been on my radar. Perhaps, they should be. Regardless, Dave Grohl put together an excellent series of documentaries about the different cities, bands, and studios in which his band were recording their most recent record. There are definitely stronger episodes, but the stories and appreciation of musical history is great. This is an enjoyable watch.


Travis:

(Is still playing Rock Band.)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Festivus Grievances 2015


Many of the taint ticklers are exhausted, given various struggles throughout the year. Fortunately, we found solace in music, booze, and/or friends. A depressing part of airing our musical grievances is the persistence of the issues year after year.

Anita Papsmear:

(Is busy contemplating Null’s conflicted fascination with Taylor Swift.)


Beert:

Musically, 2015 has not been a total disaster. Those who feast on pop-drivel continue to do so. Since KTEQ regained it’s broadcasting status a couple years ago, I find myself tuned in to far-from-mainstream music, with shows switching every 3 hours. The notes keep rolling on as they have for eons.

I don’t really have much to complain about, on the music front. I tend to keep myself immersed in what I enjoy, and I’ll venture outside of my comfort zone from time to time to give something new a chance. I could complain about the music the kids listen to, but that is a typical reaction of every generation when it comes to understanding the draw of the younger generation’s music. In time, much like everyone else, the younger kids will have their memories of the music of their youth and will gain an appreciation for some of the music that came before them. And they will question the musical taste of those who follow. In essence, it isn’t a complaint, just a right of passage for us. And I’m at the age now where I don’t understand what the kids are listening to (you call THAT hardcore?).

Now, bring on the sweets so I can begin my holiday weight gain!


Class Warrior:

I’m too tired to move.

I sat down a while ago thinking I was taking a break from walking, always walking. I must have passed out. I need to keep moving or else I’m not safe. I’m so hungry, though. I can’t find enough food ever since Fred died. The raiders killed him when he tried to protect our food stash. I hid behind the rubble pile. It’s what he told me to do. He was right. They would have cut my throat just like they did to him. Or worse.

He looked out for me. He was the only one. I miss him so. I’d never had a boyfriend before the war started. The war. And it was all going so well for me, for a change.

I’ve always been big. Fat. Obese. Whatever word you want to use. I tried all the diets. Nothing worked, or if it did, it wasn’t for very long. The doctor told me to lose the weight or I would get diabetes or I might die before I turned forty. It scared me, which is the response the doctor wanted, I guess. Then she told me about gastric bypass. I couldn’t afford it right then, but I did have quite a bit of money in the bank already, so I saved up for a few months (with some help from Dad) and got the surgery.

It worked so well! I lost a hundred and fifty pounds in the first year. It was as if my body were disappearing. Pounds and pounds sliding away, away, never to return. It was a pain in the ass having to eat such small portions and taking all those vitamin supplements, but I did it. For two years, I did it.

Then the bombs started falling.

One of my first thoughts when the lights went off and never came back on was: I hope I can still find my vitamin supplements at the store. But everything stopped. All the grocery stores closed. Everyone was looting everything. There were lots of dead bodies. Some of the bodies disappeared. Maybe their people found them. Other bodies are still where they were when they died.

It was so confusing. I don’t know why the war started. I was never much of a news or politics follower, but I did hear about an unstable government in Russia from my neighbor. That same neighbor used to say that we had elected a fascist too, but I don’t know about that. The president seemed awfully angry whenever I saw her on TV, talking about immigrants and Muslims and who knows what else.

Everything fell apart overnight. I couldn’t go to work. The train stopped running, and most of the roads were blown up. I saw a couple of months later that my office building downtown wasn’t there anymore—it was just a big pile of bricks and metal—so there was no point in going. I tried calling Dad, but the phones didn’t work anymore. I hope he’s okay. He lives in Omaha now. I can’t walk that far to see him. My car is out of gas. I should have filled it up before the bombs, but how could I have known?

Once the food in my fridge and cabinets was gone, I had to leave my house, but I was scared to go out the front door. There were gunshots every now and then, some close, some far away. I checked with my neighbor first. She didn’t answer the door. No one was there. I’m ashamed to say it, but I tried the back door. Maybe she had some food! It looked like someone had broken the lock, so I went in. I found her dead on the kitchen floor. All I remember is screaming and running away. I went back to my house, grabbed some clothes and my vitamins, then got in my car and left. I haven’t been back to my neighborhood since. What would be the point?

The car ran out of gas after I’d gone about twenty miles. I didn’t know where I was going. I had to get out and walk. After a while a young man came up to me. He showed me the palms of his empty hands, as if he were trying to show a snarling dog he meant no harm. He told me his name was Fred, and he knew where to get some food, and did I want to come with him. Yes, I did. Later he told me that I looked like a lost puppy, so he thought he had to do something to help me. Everyone loves puppies.

But the main reason Fred and I came together was for protection. I needed him. He said he needed me, but I don’t know. A puppy is not very good at protecting people until she grows up. I wonder if I did. He had to show me how to use his handgun. It didn’t take me long to learn how to shoot and to take care of it.

I killed a man with it. He shot at us first, though.

It was at the old pharmacy I used to go to for my prescriptions. He was in the building, probably rooting around for painkillers. We surprised each other. I found out he was a bad shot. I still don’t know if I can shoot worth a damn or not, but he is dead and I am alive. I got lucky, I guess.

The supplements were there. We found enough to last for a long time. Quite a bit of food as well. A lot of it was moldy, but the packaged food was fine. I always wondered if that stuff would make it through a nuclear war. Are we in a war? Is it nuclear? The explosions were so bright and so big. There has been no news. No one has come to help. We have had to help ourselves.

Killing someone is hard. I thought it might be. I can still see his dead face if I close my eyes. I did that. But I know I would do it again if I had to.

I wonder what the man was like. Before the war, I mean. Did he deserve it? I hope he deserved it.

Fred. Before we came together, he would gorge himself on whatever food he could find, then move on. Moving on kept you from being a target. Establishing a base was dangerous. Trying to make a home was out of the question. We tried, though. We thought the building on the outskirts of the old city was safe enough.

Fred. My love. He loved me too. He told me. He didn’t care about my stretch marks, my loose skin. He loved me. I told him about my surgery, of course. That’s why we tried to make a home. A refuge. I cannot gorge myself and run, even if it’s safer to eat that way. We had to build a stash of food so that I could eat small amounts multiple times a day.

How long did we live this way? A couple of months, maybe? It’s funny how quickly marking the days exits your life when there are no calendars. When there are no jobs you have to go to. The moon waxed and waned two or three times. It was warm when we met. The leaves had fallen from the trees and it was cold when they killed him. Is that accurate enough?

Fred warned me that it couldn’t last. The raiders would find us eventually. We had chased off two gangs already. I used up all my bullets the second time. My gun was just for show after that.

The third gang came. There were four men. They didn’t have guns. They had crowbars and tire irons and baseball bats. And a knife.

I hid. They never saw me. I tried to be as quiet as I could, but I know I screamed at least once. They must have been high or so focused on what they were doing that they didn’t hear. Or maybe it was a silent scream.

Fred got one of them with his rifle. Still they came. They must have been desperate. Aren’t we all, though. They reached our building before Fred could reload. I saw it all.

They took everything. They laughed as they stole. They didn’t seem to care that their friend was dead. One less mouth to feed. One less person to fight for the spoils.

Now my stash is gone. My vitamins are gone. My Fred is gone. Dead and buried. Those raiders took it all from me. I keep coming back to where I piled the brick rubble on top of him. Maybe it was a bad dream. Maybe Fred will appear, head poking above the ruined wall as he climbs the stairs out of the basement. The snow sticks to his black hair and melts, slowly, so slowly.

He was mine. It was our home. We only had a little while together. It’s not fair. He loved me.

After that, I had no choice but to keep moving. I don’t go far. I can’t bear to be away too long from Fred’s resting place. But food is so scarce. I haven’t found any the last four days. All the stores are empty. It’s so cold.

I have to keep moving. The gangs might find me. I’m too tired, though. Exhausted. Maybe I will get my strength back if I just sit against this wall a while longer.

Who am I kidding? I’ll be dead soon, whether I move again or not. I just want to be left in peace as I starve and freeze.

At least I’m finally thin.


Dave:

I really developed my taste for music in the early nineties when a lot of the traditional musical tropes were thrown out the window. Bands like Helmet, the Melvins, NIN, and Tool got to put comparatively radical ideas out through major music distributors. Music was exciting and revolutionary. As a consumer of music, I have maintained pretty high expectations regarding creativity and artistic integrity in the artists I support. Up until about five years ago I have been lucky enough to live in a city with a musical community that has shared my aesthetic values, and through the local underground I have been able to find national artists that also operate with the same qualities. I don't see the old spark so much any more. The qualities that made the Portland, Or. arts community worthy of support have been boiled down to empty buzzwords, and most of the folks that built the community have left, or been pushed out by those with excessive social and economic capitol, which allows them to dominate creative dialogue with predictably mediocre results. At the national level punk and metal seem to be going through a cycle of regression. I simply have better things to do with my time these days. It was fun while it lasted.


Five-Inch Taint:

On the whole this was a great year of music for me. Therefore, I do not have many grievances.

First: I have to mention an occurrence at concerts that I do not see going away anytime soon: taking pictures and video of the band while they are playing. It seems that no matter where I stand, off on the side, in the back, or right up front, unless I am in the first row, my concert experience is mediated through cell phones (and even some tablets…what the fuck?). Seriously, what do you expect to get out of doing this? Do you honestly think that if you record parts of the show and immediately upload that picture/video of horrid quality to whatever social media is the flavor of the month more people will think you are cool? I do not give one iota of a fuck how many “likes” you get. You are ruining the concert experience and even the performance of the band, because, apparently, your self-worth as a human being is tied to “connecting” with others, at that specific moment, who are not present with you. This shit does not even make you happy as you constantly seek out more and more pseudo-praise from your “friends” who you don’t even know well enough to invite to go to the concert with you. This trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. . 89% of cell phone users have used their cell phones at a social gathering (like concerts). And, it’s not making people any happier or allowing them to enjoy their experience more. 82% of the people polled found that using cell phones during a social gathering takes away from the atmosphere as some consider it being socially disruptive. No wonder Sherry Turkle thinks that we are increasingly Alone Together. We’re photographing more and experiencing less.

Second: Riot Fest 2016. A few weeks ago (sometime in November), I received an email from Riot Fest telling me that early bird tickets were already available for the 2016 festival in Denver. Last year I paid probably 70 bucks for early bird tickets. 70 dollars for a three-day festival is not bad. This is true especially when they tend to bring in great big acts like The Cure, System of a Down, The Buzzcocks, Iggy Pop, and so much more (not to mention the not so big, but just as great acts). But, this year, they raised the early bird price to 100 dollars. Now, keep in mind, you purchase these tickets before they announce which bands have been booked. So, you’re putting your faith in the festival promoters to bring in some great bands. This would be all fine and good except that there seems to be a disturbing trend in which the promoters are bringing in a wider variety of bands to appeal to a broader audience. While I’m not against a diversification of musical styles (a colleague once referred to SoDak and myself as “musical omnivores”), I am not confident in the direction this diversification is moving towards. So, fuck you Riot Fest. I’ll still probably buy tickets to your festival, but, fuck you nonetheless.

Third: One word, Danzig. This year, musician and perennial horror-show diva, Glenn Danzig decided to grace our auditory nerves with a cover album. The album, that shall not be named as that would give it too much credit, is the musical equivalent of cats fucking. You know what I’m talking about—the horrific pangs of the female cat as the male cat jams his barbed dick into the female to scrape out a rivals semen. Cannibal Corpse couldn’t write a more horrific song about torture sex. Because that’s what it is, torture. And, so is listening to Danzig’s new album. Let me reiterate this, it is the auditory equivalent of being brutally tortured by a barbed cat dick sliding in and out of your ear canal for over 35 minutes. Cats certainly don’t fuck for that long and for good reason. But, for some reason, I listened to that album three times.

Other than that, I was reasonably satisfied with music this year.


Jimmy “Explosive Diarrehea” B:


Adele: I don’t really have a problem with Adele. She helps us concretely understand what is going on with the record industry. Adele has a good voice, and her songs are catchy and accessible to anyone who cares to listen. She has sold around six million records in the United States. Okay, now step back and think about Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, and Taylor Swift, and you see a huge talent gap. Why is Adele the new golden child? My thought is that the portion of music buying consumers – those who are not willing to spend hours searching out great music from independent artists—are starved, ravenous actually, for something that fills their need for real music. The music industry, like the film industry, like the news media, like the ____ (insert money making interest here), has struck upon a formula for increasing capital. This formula is based upon the idea that what worked previously is sure to work again. Hence, the recycling of crap like the aforementioned d-bags of the music industry. This formulaic idea is not relegated to only the major labels or pop music. Read below.

Metal music: Dave, in a recent listserve post said that heavy metal has regressed. My first thought was to dismiss this since there are a lot of interesting metal bands. But, the more I thought about it, the more I agree with Sir Dave. Quick, without overthinking it, name three popularish metal bands doing groundbreaking work that did not exist prior to 2000. It’s not an easy task. Most of the really interesting bands that come to mind for me are bands like Kreator, Napalm Death, Onslaught, Cannibal Corpse, Opeth, etc. But, they have all been around for a long time. Most of what has been selling well in recent years has one of two qualities. First, we have the retro 70s sound. I am referring to bands like Blood Ceremony, Witch, Ghost, and Uncle Acid. Second, we have bands like Torche, Red Fang, Mastodon— and it pains me to write this—The Sword (the new album is crap), who have taken pop-metal to new heights of shitdom. I admit to liking a fair number of the retro-style bands; The Tower is one my current favorites. I think that variety is desirable, but the trend among even small labels is towards promoting one of these two trends in metal music. It truly is a step backwards.

Dave: How dare you make me think on a day when I just want to sit back and listen to Red Fang; you dick!

Mike Thrasher: Every year the Hawthorne Theater in Portland, Oregon, makes my grievance list for its bad sound system. A friend of mine recently told me that Mr. Thrasher, owner of the H. Theater, has installed a new sound system. I now feel like I am obligated to go to a show there to check out the quality of the system. If it is truly improved, I will miss these yearly rants. And, Thrasher is getting a thrashing here because I may never get another chance.

Adele again: How dare you make me write about you in a positive light. I will never do it again.


Kloghole:

1. Fuck U2. I saw a bunch of coverage of them and the Queens of Death Metal or whatever the fuck their name is. Paris, really? Of all the fucked up places in the world to feel sorry for, you feel sorry for Paris? Go fuck yourself, U2. Also, thanks for reinforcing the idea that the band is more important than the 70 or so folks who were killed at the show. I am sure the family of the merch guy loved your fucking tribute.

2. Of the two shows I went to this year, one was a bad attempt to cover Led Zeppelin for a Halloween gig in a local bar. Blah! I am so exhausted from this year, I am not even sure if those are the only shows I saw. SoDak will have to remind me.

3. 2015 did suck an infected testicle on a leprous lion with Tourette’s. Can’t wait for 2016! Woo hoo!

Sweet Dreams Motherfuckers!


Null:

1. Disappearing Music:
Basically, everything I have written the last several years concerning how the new digital landscape is destroying the physicality of music, from production to consumption, remains true. See my previous years’ Grievances. I’m losing this battle.

2. Ryan Adams covering Taylor Swift’s 1989 album.
I hate the fact that I love it.

3. Morrissey Reissues/Remasters
The Morrissey remasters/reissues that have taken place the last several years are very disturbing in the sense that not only did they change the artwork but also fucked with the song sequences. One simply does not change an album’s art work and song sequence. When record companies do so, they lobotomize our personal connections and histories with these releases. It is sacrilege—regardless of the artist. It is the equivalent of Nazis’s riding dinosaurs.

4. Stupid Motherfuckers on the Internet talking about music.
I saw a petition online wherein someone was trying to get enough signatures to stop Phil Collins from coming out of retirement. Hey look, I’m not chomping at the bit to hear a new “adult contemporary” Phil Collins record either but until you are able to write an album as good as Face Value or a power-ballad as good as “Against All Odds,” shut the fuck up. Better yet, try playing the drums on the album Duke. Stupid motherfuckers probably weren’t even born when “Separate Lives” and “Take Me Home” hit the airwaves. Who ever thought a little, pudgy, English, balding, prog-rocker that is obsessed with Motown and the Alamo could ever write so much interesting and weird music unheard under an avalanche of hits? He is far from perfect, but he’s the only Phil Collins we have.

5. Lemmy being sick during Riot Fest in Denver.
I finally had my chance to see Motorhead live. Lemmy was sick—he couldn’t take the altitude in Colorado. I felt bad for Lemmy. I felt really bad for me. Sad.


Scott:

(Is reading a book manuscript on a never-ending commute.)


SoDak:

1. Amazon selling records burned onto CD-Rs. This past year, I ordered four CDs from Amazon. When the package arrived, I was surprised to discover that Amazon just burned the music to a CD-R and printed a cover. Given how shitty CD-Rs are, the quality sucks. There are errors in the transfer. I could have just downloaded the music and burned to a CD-R myself, if I had known what I was getting. When I looked back at the Amazon page, I noticed that there is small print indicating that what was being ordered was a CD-R. Fuck me. Fuck them.

2. Stage divers at the Adolescents show. The Urban Lounge has a small stage. The club is quite intimate. From time to time, the audience has an asshole or two. At the Adolescents show, there were a couple folks who were repeatedly stage diving. One of the individuals kept kicking members of the band when he jumped into the crowd. He hit the singer a couple of times in the face, chipping the latter’s teeth. Finally, the singer got pissed and walked off the stage, ending the show. Some folks in the crowd seemed to take pride in being assholes and started yelling shit at the band.

3. The mohawk dumb ass at the Stiff Little Fingers show. As the Stiff Little Fingers were about to start their set, this asshole told everyone that he was so excited, because “Alternative Ulster” was his favorite song. Of course, the band was going to play this classic, but they were going to play it toward the end of their set. This did not satisfy Mr. punk rocker. Between every song, he would yell out things such as “That song fucking sucked,” “You suck,” and “Fuck that dumb song.” Then he would scream, “Play a song for me. Play my favorite song. I want to dance.” Guess, he thought that the band was there simply to do as he pleased, and that being a fuckin’ dick was the way to accomplish this.

4. Hearing Dio’s song, “Eat Your Heart Out,” used in a Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s commercial.

5. Disappointing albums by artists I generally like. This year the list includes the following: Dar Williams, Emerald; The Pine Hill Project (Richard Shindell and Lucy Kaplansky), Tomorrow You’re Going; Josh Ritter, Sermon on the Rocks; Wilco, Star Wars; and Sun Kil Moon, Universal Themes.


Travis:

(Is chasing his child around the room, while listening to The Sword.)