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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.

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Monday, December 31, 2018

SoDak’s Musical Obsessions 2018

By SoDak

Below is a list of favorite records, which I spent a lot of time listening to this year. My list is not in any particular order. I cannot contemplate how to rank and order them, without driving myself insane.  

Verbal Assault, Trial (1987, Reissue 2018).
Thrilled that Verbal Assault’s Trail was finally reissued, thanks to Atomic Action. My old cassette of this Rhode Island band was almost worn out. The reissue sounds fuckin’ great. Verbal Assault occupy the space between hardcore and Fugazi. They are intense and emotional. They have very catchy moments within most of their songs. I get goosebumps every time I put this record on. Love it, love it, can’t get enough. 

Ural Thomas and the Pain, Ural Thomas and the Pain (2016) and The Right Time (2018).
Ural Thomas has been singing soul music since the 1950s and put out some singles in the 60s and 70s. Along with an outstanding band, he has released a couple records the last few years. This Portland band has a classic sound that warms the heart and makes you want to move. They put on a great concert, as Ural brought a big smile to my face. His voice sounds great, which is impressive given his age. I hope that he has several more records in him. 

Jenny Don’t and the Spurs, Call of the Road (2017).
The self-titled record by Jenny Don’t and the Spurs was fine. But Call of the Road is outstanding. Classic country is mixed with some rock elements. Jenny’s vocals sound rich and full. At times, her voice sounds similar to Neko Case, on her earlier records. I would like to travel to Portland to see them play. 

Hallas, Excerpts from a Future Past (2017).
Earlier this year, AntiChrist-iansen recommended the Hallas record, claiming that it was awesome. He was completely right. This Swedish band mixes metal, hard rock, and prog with ease, creating beautiful songs. Fans of the last Elder record will enjoy this one. 

Alejandro Escovedo, The Crossing (2018).
love Alejandro Escovedo. He is a brilliant songwriter, who follows his creative inspiration across music genres. His 2002 Austin City Limitsperformance, in which he has cello and violin players accompanying the rest of the band, was perfection. I have seen him in concert a couple dozen times and he has never disappointed me. Having said this, I have found the last four records to be rather mediocre within his extensive catalog. His new record, The Crossing, is not among his best, but it is a very powerful and solid record. The record offers a thoughtful reflection on issues related to migration and race. It is chilling and reflective. It offers a great critique of the reactionary and fascist tendencies that are rife within the United States. 

Wipers, The Herd (1996).
I am guilty. When I was younger I only listened to the first three or four records by the Wipers. I loved this punk rock, garage band from Portland, but never followed up on later records. This year, Graywhale had a used copy of The Herd. I figured what the hell. I thought the record would be very polished like a couple latter songs I had heard by the later Wipers. This record was still raw and really peaked my interest. I am not sure why it connected with me, but I have been listening to it regularly this fall and winter. 

Voivod, The Wake (2018).
I think Voivod put out a great trilogy of records in the late 1980s, with Killing Technology(1987), Dimension Hatröss(1988), andNothingface(1989). On these records they found their distinctive sound, blending metal and prog influences. While they put out other solid records through the years, they were definitely reinvigorated on Target Earth (2013) and Post Society (2016). The Wake continues this trajectory, drawing upon the best moments of the past, but with fresh insights and contributions. The current lineup is very powerful and seem to be having the time of their lives playing together. 

Joe Ely, Full Circle: The Lubbock Tapes (2018).
Joe Ely has been a longtime favorite. He is part of the legendary Flatlanders with Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock. This record by the Texas singer-songwriter is a lost album that Lloyd Maines, Ely’s pedal-steel player, found in a box of old belongings. These recordings are from 1974 and 1978. They are stripped down songs, illuminating his talents, which continued to grow through the years. 

Pig Destroyer, Head Cage (2018).
I am not that familiar with Pig Destroyer. Null shared their music with me when he was exploring more extreme music. Five-Inch Taint has been encouraging me to spend more time with them. I am glad that I did. Head Cage is fucking crazy, complex, fascinating, and intense. While Pig Destroyer is a grindcore band, they are quite dynamic. This record has continued to hold my interest in way that I was not expecting. 

Marked Men, The Marked Men (2003), On the Outside (2004), and Fix My Brain (2006).
While there is nothing spectacular about the Marked Men, I was quite taken with their records this year. They play straight-forward melodic punk rock. They have obviously listened to a lot of Ramones and other classic punk bands. They satisfied my desire to hear music along these lines. 

Greenleaf, Hear the Rivers (2018).
I picked up the most recent Greenleaf record within the past month. I think it is the best record by this Swedish hard rock band. They have big riffs and enjoyable grooves on most of the songs. The first song, “Let It Out!,” is a great opening track. It sounds incredible when played very loud. Recently, my wife was enjoying the record while we cooked dinner, suggesting that they would be a perfect band for Psycho Vegas. She is absolutely right. In fact, if they were added to the bill, it would encourage me to get my ticket for 2019. 

First Aid Kit, Ruins (2018).
I have loved each record by these Swedish sisters. Their folk-Americana music is beautiful and soothing. At the beginning of 2018, I was quite captivated with this record. I recently returned to it after Five-Inch Taint mentioned it. Wonderful record. I am thrilled that they continue to deliver four full-length records into their careers. 

Etae, Parfinouloder (2012).
This CD was a gift from my comrades in Mauritius. Several years ago, I spent a week working with and learning from so many wonderful people who live on this amazing island nation in the Indian Ocean. We spent the nights around a fire on the beach, sharing stories, and listening to music, as fruit bats flew overhead, casting massive shadows on the sand. My comrade Stefan plays guitar and sings in this band. The songs are filled with beautiful acoustic guitar parts, which then are joined by rich percussion, and enchanting vocals. A couple songs even have a psychedelic-trance feel. 

Black Tusk, T.C.B.T. (2018).
I saw Black Tusk on one of their first tours and enjoyed them a great deal. I have picked up each record, as I enjoy their style of sludgy metal. Most records were solid, without big surprises—that is until this year’s T.C.B.T. This Black Tusk record is outstanding. There is a fire and intensity in the songs that I think has been missing. It moves between punk, hardcore, and metal throughout the record, creating a wide-ranging record. These Savannah boys delivered the goods on this album. 

Palehorse/Palerider, Burial Songs (2017).
Not sure how I happened upon this Denver, Colorado, band, but I am sure glad that I did. There are four long songs on this record. Their music is very much in the vein of instrumental post-rock bands, but with vocals, which actually fit the music, blending in seamlessly. Great record. Hopefully, they tour the region, as I would love to see them perform. 

Malcolm Holcombe, Come Hell or High Water (2018).
It seems that Malcolm Holcombe makes my list each year. I guess it is because he has been putting out new records regularly. There is something infectious about this North Carolina songwriter. At first, I was not sure if I would like his gruff vocals, which are also quite gritty. But, there is a strange comfort and lived-in aspect to his voice and songs, which blend folk, blues, and country. Greg Brown and Iris Dement join him on this record. If the past couple years are any indication, he will put out another record next year, which I look forward to enjoying.  

Needles//Pins, Good Night, Tomorrow (2017).
I listened to this record a lot, while driving through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. This Vancouver, British Columbia, band plays catchy punk rock that still sounds a bit raw due to some of the vocals. “All the Same” gets caught in my head quite often. The last several years, I think I am a sucker for bands that lean toward the Leatherface spectrum of punk rock.   

Bombino, Deran (2018).
Bombino’s guitar and vocals are a bit hypnotic, as they swirl around each other, merging in unison from time to time. This Nigerian songwriter has been putting out strong records over the last ten years. Check him out. 

Emma Ruth Rundle, On Dark Horses (2018).
On Dark Horsesis my favorite Emma Ruth Rundle record so far. The song “Darkhorse” is hauntingly beautiful. 

Cloud Nothings, Last Building Burning (2018).
What the fuck? Cloud Nothings always had a raw, loose energy to them. They rocked more than most indie bands, but were not quite punk rock. But on Last Building Burning it seems that they are on the verge of exploding. There is a fire burning on these songs, making these songs more exciting than on the last record they put out. 

Mammoth Grinder, Cosmic Crypt (2018).
Five-Inch Taint was very enthusiastic about the new Mammoth Grinder, so I picked it up. Fuck me, it is relentless. They have a distinct driving drum-bass element that propels the songs forward in a mad rush. At the same time, the guitar and vocals add an intriguing element to this death metal/hardcore mix, which makes me smile, as they lead me over the cliff. 

Adam’s House Cat, Town Burned Down (2018).
Before they formed the Drive-By Truckers, Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood played in Adam’s House Cat. I had only heard about this record from 1990, but did not have access to it. This year the record was made broadly available. I was not expecting this to be such a strong record. Damn, it is very enjoyable, as you hear the influence of Tom Petty, punk rock, R.E.M., and the country music that surrounded them. 

Worriers, Survival Pop (2017).
The melodic, slightly punk songs of Worriers are catchy as hell. Lauren Denitzio’s vocals pull at my heart strings. Their songs are quite simple, energetic, and good. Lately, I have been enjoying “Future Me” and “Self-Esteemed.”

DVNE, Asheran (2017).
Last year Jack Rafferty recommended DVNE to me. I really liked the record, but was bummed that it was not available in a physical form at the time. This past summer DVNE played at Psycho Vegas. They were great. To my satisfaction, they had records and CDs with them, so I was finally able to enjoy the music on my stereo. This record is a journey filled with metal, prog, and post-rock elements. The vocals are generally clean, with sweeping melodic moments. 

Urinals, Negative Capability...Check It Out! (1996) and What Is Real and What Is Not (2003).
The Urinals, who are from California, formed in the 1970s. They are one of the bands that influenced the Minutemen, which can be heard on many of the songs. They reformed in the 1990s. Their short, stripped-down punk rock songs are deeply satisfying. The lyrics are interesting. Good stuff on these records.

Murder by Death, The Other Shore (2018).
Murder by Death can be quite haunting. On The Other Shore, they present a tale about the ravaging of the planet earth. This time their Americana approach is laced with western-space influences. They are always eclectic and distinct. The opening song, “Alas,” sets a great tone for the record.  

Haunt, Burst into Flame (2018).
Haunt are an enjoyable throwback 1970s/80s metal band. They have a classic sound to them, which was quite satisfying to me this past year. I think this is their best release so far. 

Steve Forbert, The Magic Tree (2018).
Steve Forbert has been putting out records since the late 1970s. He has a limited voice, but it works well for the songs that he writes. He is a good storyteller. Solid record. 

Whitey Morgan and the 78s, Hard Times and White Lines (2018).
Was looking forward to this record. Whitey throws down classic country-honky tonk songs. This record kicks some serious ass. Kloghole needs to finally give Whitey Morgan a listen. 

Leon III, Leon III (2018).
Leon III is a side project for some of the Wrinkle Neck Mules folks. The raspy voice is evocative and moving. The pedal steel is haunting. This is a gentle Americana record for dark evenings by the fire. I am eager for more records by the Wrinkle Neck Mules, but this is a satisfying record to hold me over until then. 

Napalm Death, Coded Smears And More Uncommon Slurs (2018).
This double CD collects songs from various compilations and bonus tracks. As is to be expected, it is unrelenting and brilliant. I would never have guessed that I would become such a Napalm Death fan, but I cannot get enough. This record is fucking awesome. It also shows the range of music that the band plays. They rule. 

Quiet Slang, Everything Matters But No One Is Listening (2018).
On this record, the leader of Beach Slang presents a collection of songs that are stripped down and more mellow. The Replacements influence is still evident on most the songs, but whatever. It sounds good. I like the strings, piano, and gentle guitar. The vocal effect is a bit much at times, since it is present on most songs, but it does create a specific sound for the record. This is also a good record for watching the snow fall on a winter night.

Flesh Eaters, No Questions Asked (1980) and A Hard Road to Follow (1983).
This past year, I returned to a couple Flesh Eaters records that I had not heard in many years. I was completely enthralled with them in a new way. This band that formed in the late 1970s around Chris D was quite distinct. They offered a raw mix of punk with roots rock, blues, and other influences. Chris’s voice is distinctive and leaves me wanting to hear more. From time to time, members of X and Dave Alvin have played on Flesh Eaters records. In 2019, there is going to be a new Flesh Eaters record. I am looking forward to it. 

Colter Wall, Songs of the Plains (2018).
On this record, Colter Wall presents a collection of songs that sound as if they could have been on a mellow country record from the 1960s and 70s. There is minimal instrumentation. His voice is a focal point, which works well. 

Drug Church, Cheer (2018).
I have been obsessing over this record. Drug Church play slightly discordant punk rock that is still melodic. From time to time, there will be chords and riffs that are similar to Sonic Youth, such as on “Unlicensed Hall Monitor.” I like the various vocal styles, including the strained voice on many of the songs. 

New Model Army, Night of a Thousand Voices (2018).
New Model Army remains one of my favorite bands. Each year, they close out the year with a special concert. Last year, they played a couple shows in a small theater, where they set up in the middle. They provided the audience a book of lyrics, so everyone in attendance could sing at full voice with the band. While these are never going to be the definitive versions of the songs, the effect is really quite emotional and moving to hear everyone singing along to songs that mean so much to them.

War on Women, War on Women (2015) and Capture the Flag (2018).
Musically there is nothing too distinctive about War on Women. They sound like a classic hardcore-punk band from the late 1980s and early 1990s, which is awesome as far as I am concerned. It is just nice to hear such direct pissed off political and feminist lyrics. 

Alcoa, Bone & Marrow (2013) and Parlour Tricks (2015). 
These two records put out by Bridge Nine are quite pleasant. Alcoa is a side project of a member from the hardcore band Defeater. Here, he plays Americana songs, which are quite touching. 

Steve Perry, “No Erasin.’”
While this will not qualify as cool, I was quite pleased to hear that Steve Perry was returning to music. I grew up with Journey records that meant a great deal to me. “No Erasin’” was the first single from his new record Traces. The day it was released I listened to it a lot. At first, it was evident that his voice was not as strong. There were moments where I would have expected his voice to soar, hitting the high notes. But time has passed, people age, and voices change. The vocals were a bit constrained, but he makes it work within the song. Nevertheless, I found the song to be memorable, and I kept listening to it, over and over. The song grew on me. While I am still settling into the new record, I would be lying if I did not admit that this song was an obsession this year. 

I managed to attend over sixty concerts this year, including several festivals. I love sharing these experiences with fellow comrades of the taint. Thank you.

Some of my favorite performances this year included: Richard Thompson (solo acoustic), Booker T, Mammoth Grinder, Superchunk, Jawbreaker, Tyler Childers, Nikki Lane, Wolf Parade, Son Volt, Fireburn (I am still bummed that Todd Youth died. He was very nice to talk with after the show.), Killing Joke, Murder by Death, Lionel Richie, Dale Watson, Ural Thomas and the Pain, Red Fang, Protomartyr, and Preoccupations.

In regard to festivals, the following were some of highlights for me: 
Crucialfest: Russian Circles, Zig Zags, Mutoid Man, Pig Destroyer, Neurosis, and Iceburn; Psycho Vegas 2018: Dengue Fever, Elder, Bell Witch, Cough, DVNE, Lucifer, Tinariwen, 
All Pigs Must Die, American Nightmare (amazing, thanks PaulySure for recommending them), Voivod, Eyehategod, Glaare, and Pallbearer

The Rapid City Punk Rock Family Reunion was also awesome. In particular, Born to Suffer, Dissent, The Black Dots, Social Joke, and War//Plague were awesome.

Sir Doug & the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove (2015)
Great documentary about Doug Sahm, his music, and his life. 

Rumble: Indians Who Rocked the World (2017)
Very interesting film about indigenous peoples and their contributions to rock music throughout the years. 

Burn the Place You Hide (2016)
I loved St. Thomas’s records. I only knew a little bit about this Norwegian musician’s life. This is a solid film about Thomas Hansen, his music, and his struggles. 

Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk (2017)
My wife and I greatly enjoyed this documentary. It was a little odd watching it, as so many of the people in it played shows in Rapid City, South Dakota, and/or stayed at my house or with my friends. The film is an important historical documentation of the East Bay scene. 

The Godfathers of Hardcore (2018)
I expected this film to present the history of Agnostic Front. Instead it was focused on the lives of Roger Miret and Vinnie Stigma. The film was well done, offering an in-depth reflection of these two guys and their lives. 

I read quite a few autobiographies of musicians this past year, as well as many books in the 33 1/3 series. 

In particular, I enjoyed Dave Dictor’s MDC: Memoir from a Damaged Civilization and Keith Morris’s My Damage, as they provided glimpses into their lives and their punk rock scenes. The usual accounts of alcohol and drug stories are present, but beyond this, there are some good tales. 

I really enjoyed Rachel Lee Rubin’sOkie from Muskogee (2018). She provides an insightful analysis of Merle Haggard’s first live record, illuminating the humor, sarcasm, and focus on labor and class relations. She does a wonderful job addressing the various hypocrisy of music critics (and others), who have written about Merle. 

John Darnielle’s Master of Reality (2008) was an enjoyable quick read. In order to reflect on Black Sabbath’s third record, he wrote a fictional story of a young man locked away in a psychiatric ward. This person is not given access to music, which he indicates is what makes him feel better. He is encouraged to write a journal, which he uses to explain to staff why Master of Reality is his favorite record. The story is sad and humorous, with great details that reminded me of how much music has meant to me, especially as a kid. 

Five-Inch Taint’s Favorite Records of 2018

By Five-Inch Taint

Here are the Top 36(?) Albums that I listened to in 2018:

Adam’s House Cat, Town Burned Down
Tyler Childers, Purgatory (this one came out in 2017 and it rocked my world)
Conan, Existential Void Guardian
Voivod, The Wake 
Dommengang, Love Jail
First Aid Kit, Ruins
Haunt, Burst into Flames
Heilung, Lifa
High on Fire, Electric Messiah
Sleep, The Sciences
Judas Priest, Firepower
Mammoth Grinder, Cosmic Crypt
Whitey Morgan and the 78s, Hard Times and White Lines
The Temptations (Psychedelic albums): Masterpiece, Psychedelic Shack, Puzzle People, Sky’s the Limit
Thou, Magus
Pharoah Sanders, Thembi/Black Unity
Ural Thomas & the Pain, The Right Time
Cult Leader, A Patient Man
Earthless, both Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky and From the West
Pig Destroyer, Head Cage
All Pigs Must Die, Hostage Animal
Hallas, Excerpts from a Future Past
Boygenius, S/T
J. Mascis, Elastic Days
Messa, Belfry (not a 2018 release, but I found this in 2018 and it fucking rocks)
Napalm Death, Coded Smears and More Uncommon Slurs
Nothing, Dance on the Blacktop
Marc Ribot, Songs of Resistance
Colter Wall, Song of the Plains
Yob, Our Raw Heart
Ashley Monroe, Sparrow
Courtney Barnett, Tell Me How You Really Feel

Null's Musical Obsessions 2018

By Null

What follows is a list of records and/or bands that I was obsessed with this year for one reason or another. However, there are a number of bands that I obsess over every year. Typically, these are my favorite bands, so they don’t appear on my Musical Obsessions list, as I tend to save said lists for novelties, new discoveries, surprises, and outliers. The list of bands that could appear on my Musical Obsessions every year, are as follows: Dead Kennedys, Bad Religion, Joy Division, The Cure, The Smiths, Dead Moon, Les Thugs, Seaweed, Fugazi…and possibly a few others. Usually, I revisit their entire catalogs throughout the year. I don’t know if I could make it without these bands. I love you.

Here’s to 2018:

Kvelertak, Nattsferd (Roadrunner, 2016), Meir (Roadrunner, 2013), Kvelertak (Indie, 2010)
SoDak turned me on to this band. Indeed, my favorite musical memory from 2018 was discovering the amazing Norwegian band, Kvelertak. Just thinking about the band makes me happy. I was introduced to their albums in backward chorological order because that is how I heard them. I suggest you do the same.

Listening to Kvelertak is like getting bitch-slapped by a rainbow. Somehow, they are all familiar things at once and like something completely new. They are from another land and speak in a language I don’t understand. This aspect only widens their mystery and allure. They grind in with blast beats, then they hunker down and rock, then they hit you with some blistering punk rock in between acoustic flourishes, then your eyes start to glow an other-worldly blue and beams shoot out of your pupils. Maybe it’s just me. 

At one point I got so excited that I called SoDak and offered to give him a hand job for introducing me to this band.

Chvrches, Every Eye Open (Goodbye, 2015)

It is safe to say I freaked out on Chvrches records this year. After I heard the track “Clearest Blue,” there was simply no going back. At first I thought they might be too commercial, or pop, for me to truly embrace. However, after hearing the album Every Eye Open, I just didn’t care. I was in love. They’re kind of like every great 1980s synth pop tune wrapped up into a single band with crystalline vocals, via Lauren Mayberry, floating on top of the songs. After obsessing on Every Eye Open, I bought their first album, The Bones of What You Believe (2013), which has more of a hard-edged-homemade feel, followed by their newest album, Love Is Dead (2018), which is a much more polished affair. The new album is the first album in which they sought out an outside producer; previously they produced their own albums. I hope in the future they revert back to producing their own albums because Love Is Dead is even more commercial and slick, two things this band didn’t need, as they were already about as commercial and slick as any band ever needs to be. 

With only three members in the band, Lauren Mayberry, Martin Doherty, and Iain Cook, these guys churn out some of the best synth-pop around. The singer is also a pretty outspoken feminist and isn’t shy about it. Though the main musicians in the band mostly stand behind their synths and computer-loop-doohicky-boxes, they do integrate bass and guitar from time to time.

I even saw them in concert this year. It was a little weird, with all the electronic stuff played live, but it was also one of my favorite concerts of the year.                                                                                                                                                          

Phil Collins, Phil Collins Plays Well with Others (4 CD Box Set) (Rhino, 2018)
To be honest, I haven’t even listened to all of these disks yet. I noticed that they seem to get progressively worse as you go. Why then, you may ask, is this on my Musical Obsessions of 2018 list? Well, because this box set is a pretty unique idea with its fair share of great music. First of all, it isn’t 4 discs of Phil Collins songs, rather, as the title suggests, it is made up primarily of songs that Phil Collins guests on playing his drums. Disc 1 alone is worth the price of admission, as it is a glimpse into Phil’s early life as a prog-rock drummer, among other things. This first disc makes his skills on the skins abundantly, and, often shockingly, clear. I’m not a big fan of prog-rock, which makes this collection nice because the listener gets glimpses into the prog-world without being overwhelmed by it. The listener gets tastes of Eno, Brand X, Argent, etc. In addition, these songs are surrounded by pop gems like Frida’s “I Know There’s Something Going On” and Robert Plant’s “In the Mood.” There are some songs that Phil sings. He records an impressive rendition of Elton John’s “Burn Down the Mission.” Still, there is a lot of painful stuff when one chronologically progresses through these discs. Prepare to hit the skip button, but don’t miss the gems hid within. The last disc is mostly Phil live with his friends and his band or something. I’ll listen to it sometime this coming year. Either way, the first disc and hidden gems on disc two were interesting enough to merit its inclusion in this list. It is an interesting slice of musical history, if you’re a music nerd, like me.

Talking Heads, Remain in Light (Sire, 1980)
I have known this album was a masterpiece for years, but this year it hit deeper than in previous years. I always felt that this album was a warning. It lays bare the anxiety, schizophrenia, alienation, existential angst, darkness, betrayal, and dystopian future that capitalism conjures up with its mixture of bullshit, glitter, and lies. This was the message the Heads had in 1980 and we are living in it today. I felt it in elementary school then and I feel it even more today. This is one of the greatest punk rock records ever. Yes, I said punk rock. Primarily influenced by Fela Kuti and African polyrhythms, the music is some of the funkiest and intriguing I have ever heard on record. This album is simply brilliant; it makes you shake your ass to your own demise. 

Metallica, …And Justice For All (Elektra, 1988)
This is weird, because I hate Metallica. Disliking Metallica has been a pretty big part of my personal identity for years.
Let me tell you a story. There I was in high school listening to Joy Division, The Cure, The Smiths, and various punk rock bands that were changing my life. I was, in high school, hating Metallica, while it seemed so much of the world was in love with them.
My friend had let me borrow his The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited cassette tape to see whether or not I liked it. It consisted of a handful of cover songs recorded by Metallica. Some of the songs had a good groove, but The Misfits cover was stupid, probably because The Misfits are stupid. I returned his cassette tape and informed him that I wasn’t too impressed.
Several weeks later I was walking home from school and noticed a cassette tape on the sidewalk. I picked it up to find that it was Metallica’s …And Justice for All. It was brand new and fully intact with the cover and lyrics. I went home, slapped it in my Walkman and listened to whole thing while reading the lyrics. I hated the voice. I hated the way the drummer’s bass drum sounded like he was slapping a wet seal. Was there even a bass player on this album? The lyrics were pretty good for the most part, but I just didn’t believe them, and this was before the world found out the band was made up of a bunch of rich crybabies. I did think they had a few good grooves and “Eye of the Beholder” seemed kinda funky. Needless to say, I did not fall in love with Metallica. I did, however, hang on to the tape for the next decade, listening to it every couple of years just for the hell of it.
A few years ago, I saw the album used on CD and picked it up simply to keep it as a part of my record collection considering that I rarely listened to cassette tapes anymore. I listened to it on CD and realized that I had actually become familiar with the album after listening to it once every few years over the last 30 years. This year it was remastered, and I was curious to see if they had decided to actually bring the bass guitar up in the mix. Against my better judgement, I bought, yet again, an album I didn’t particular like. Well, they didn’t fix it. However, there were deeper bass frequencies in the remaster; it wasn’t fixed, but it did sound better.
I put it into the CD player in my car on the way to work. It stayed there for 2 weeks. I simply couldn’t stop listening to it. The pessimistic environmental lyrics in the opening song “Blackened” sounded truer than ever. The following lyrics about corruption and political power plays also sounded great, and timely. They rang true for the first time in all these years. Maybe it is because I stopped comparing them to Jello Biafra’s lyrics. Hey, these lyrics are pretty good for Metallica. I really liked the lyrics on this record and the music suddenly became infectious to me—fucked up drum sound and everything. I had to admit that I loved this record.
Now, I am still not a Metallica fan per say. I know that metal fans are some of the most fervent and opinionated in the world. I don’t pretend to know Metallica’s work. The endless debates about when and where Metallica “sold out” or went “prog” don’t interest me. I simply don’t care. I don’t know Metallica’s records before or after …and Justice for All and at this time I don’t really care to. I want to keep our relationship simple. I love …And Justice For All and that’s just how it is. Did Trump make me love this album? I don’t want to talk about it. 
(Post Script—I have also been enjoying the aforementioned Garage Days EP. In addition, right before I sent this in to be published, I bought Master of Puppets. The moral of this story is that I can’t predict the future.)

Various Artists, To The Outside Of Everything: A Story of UK Post Punk 1977-1981 Five CD Box Set (Cherry Red, 2017)
There is a ton of great politically charged punk rock songs on this box set. There are also weird experimental songs as kids in garages discovered synthesizers and were trying to figure out what to do with them. Even the stuff that isn’t great is at least historically interesting. I love it.

Various Artists, The Best of Flipside Vinyl Fanzines (Flipside, 1993)
This is a 2-disc compilation from Flipside’s Vinyl Fanzines that SoDak suggested I pick up, and it contains a large number of politically charged hardcore punk rock songs, most of which I have never heard before. It is mind blowing and has provided me with an endless number of punk rock bands to research. 55 tracks.

Kendrick Lamar, Damn (Top Dawg, 2017)
This album was a mega-big hit, and somehow it got all infection-y under my skin. Kendrick Lamar is a complicated guy. He has Christian religious beliefs that appear on this album intertwined with ignorant and even dangerous socio-political ideas. Most notably when he relays a recording made by his uncle(?) on his answering machine about how black people have suffered throughout history because they have displeased god, therefore they are being punished by him, as opposed to any considerations of economic and systematic repression. What bullshit.
Still, despite “god” showing up on this album from time to time, it is cohesive and a somewhat magical piece of work. Actually, when I first listened to this album, the references to god felt like they were displaying the absence of a god, at least that was my interpretation in the grand scheme and greater context of the album. I still interpret it this way. 
Kendrick has a myriad of voices and styles that he pulls from in an apparently endless bucket of possibilities. His flow is great and his lyrics are often clever and quick witted. He also isn’t the first artist I love that is riddled with contradictions. There are socio-political topics that come up on this album, but they feel incomplete, as if Kendrick doesn’t fully understand them. This is probably true. Still, the album moves like a cinematic panorama of his insecurities, loves, and fears. He seems like a nice guy. I am currently checking out his previous albums.

Conan, Blood Eagle (Napalm Records, 2014)
Conan is the sound of Pangaea’s great journey and whale blubber.  See my review from July of this year: http://tickleyourtaint.blogspot.com/2018/07/conan-blood-eagle-napalm-records-2014.html

Nova Mob, Nova Mob (Restless, 1994)
After spending a lifetime as a mega Hüsker Dü fan, I discovered this Nova Mob record. I love it. See my review from February of this year: http://tickleyourtaint.blogspot.com/2018/02/

Wipers, Wipers Box Set (Zeno, 2001)
I feel betrayed that no one told me how incredible the Wipers were. Do I even have friends? The Wipers were a seminal punk rock band from Portland. I can hear Dead Moon in there. Great lyrics and great music. This box set contains their first three albums and 23 bonus tracks. The sound….the sound….

Nina Simone, The Colpix Singles (Mono) (Rhino, 2018)
Nina Simone was one of the greatest recording artists ever. She can be whimsical, sultry, and politically devastating. This collection of mono singles from 1959 to 1964 is interesting, as it shows her blossoming from being a contained hit maker to a more radical and outspoken artist.  However, it barely hints of the social commentary that would be unleased in the years to follow. It is a wonderful companion for a cold, dark night. I find the sound of these mono recordings very comforting in a discomforting world. 

Various Artists, History of Portland Punk Vol. 1 (Zeno, 2004)
Holy Mother of Jesus, this is a great compilation. I picked this up while in Portland. It introduced me to the Wipers (mentioned above), as well as Sado-Nation, Neo-Boys, Stiphnoyds, and others. The first half of the CD contains several studio tracks by the aforementioned bands, while the second half contains live records from Smega, Rubbers, and others. There is some crazy shit on here. Get this album.

Tau Cross, Tau Cross (Relapse, 2015)
I picked up this album at the 2018 Punk Rock Family Reunion. Andy Lefton plays guitar in this band. Andy is in War/Plague and they played at the reunion this year. Tau Cross is a “supergroup” of sorts with members of Amebix, Voivod, War/Plague, etc. They sound like a heavy metal version of New Model Army…kinda. I listened to this album in my headphones every night when I went to bed for about a week. There are some really powerful and emotional songs on this record. “No wall, no guard, no wire, no yard. We are the perfect prisoner.”

Live Shows:
2018 Rapid City Punk Rock Family Reunion
The 2016 reunion was a beautiful thing. I had written about it previously and my feeling remain the same. Important stuff—community, friendship, history. This year’s reunion was another emotional blast, just like last time. It was great to see Born to Suffer with all of its members present. I met some old friends again, made some new friends, and heard great music. I could write many paragraphs about the experience. I’ll just leave it there. Punk rock saved most of our lives. Also, American Heavy Metal Weekend invited me up on stage to sing a Bad Religion song. Happiness.
J. Mascis, Washington’s in Fort Collins
It was just J. Masics and an acoustic guitar with some effects pedals. He didn’t look like he wanted to be there and only played for about an hour. He was awesome though.
Superchunk, Live in Portland and in Denver
SoDak, Kris, Kelly, and I took a trip to Portland, Oregon, this year. The record stores were fucking amazing. I love the trees and moss. I miss the Northwest. We were able to make it to a Superchunk show in a little venue. They were great. I talked to Mac and he agreed to have his picture taken with Kelly, who is the biggest Superchunk fan in the world. Beautiful things. I had many beers.
April (of Black Dots fame) got us last minute tickets to see Superchunk in Denver the day before they played. Kelly and I hopped into the car and arrived just before they took the stage. One of my literature professors from university showed up behind us in the crowd. We rocked out up front with April and Kevin. Kelly had a good Superchunk year. I also bought her most of their remastered albums this year.
Killing Joke, Live in Denver
SoDak took me on a date to see Killing Joke play in a little place down in Denver. Though I had known of the band for years, I was not familiar with their work. The concert was great. Though I was hearing many of these songs for the first time, they were instantly likable and catchy. The lyrics really cut through, and I liked what I was hearing. While watching them, I realized what a strange group of misfits they are. Killing Joke is a very unique band. I picked up a 2-disc collection of their singles after the show, which I am currently digesting. It is very likely that said collection may end up on next year’s Musical Obsessions list.
Chvrches, Live in Denver
I am used to seeing live shows that are generally guitar driven, so I was excited to check out this (mostly) electronic band. I wanted to hear the loud drums and synths in a live setting. They did not disappoint. It was loud, and laser beams and lights were flying everywhere. Lauren’s crystalline voice cut through the mix. It was a little different than what I was used to, but it was exactly what I wanted.
Son Volt, Live at Washington’s in Fort Collins.
I’ve seen Son Volt a million times and they are always great. This show was no exception. We were right up near the front of the stage and we didn’t have to travel too far to see the show. 
Drive-By Truckers, Live at Washington’s in Fort Collins
I have known of the Drive-By Truckers for many years. Friends have shared some of their great songs with me and I have played several on the radio. Their newer, politically charged songs say much of what needs to be said. Unfortunately, we don’t get enough of these thoughtful reflections on the state of the world these days. 
These guys played for about 3 hours, and they didn’t miss a beat, or mince their words. They had a big “Black Lives Matter” sign on the stage and spoke several times about how punk rock saved their lives. Who knew that the children of The Clash would come from the south and play folk/country/rock. I was simply blown away. I picked up a few of their records at the show and have been enjoying them profusely.  

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

PaulySure’s Favorite Music in 2018

By PaulySure

Top Albums of 2018:

50. Janelle Monae, Dirty Computer.
49. Corrosion of Conformity, No Cross No Crown.
48. Rhye, Blood.
47. Lykke Li, So Sad So Sexy.
46. All Them Witches, ATW.
45. Voivod, The Wake.
44. Author & Punisher, Beastland.
43. Superchunk, What a Time to Be Alive.
42. Wrong, Feel Great.
41. Idles, Joy as an Act of Resistance.
40. Hot Snakes, Jericho Sirens.
39. Gouge Away, Burnt Sugar.
38. Oh Sees, Smote Reverser.
37. Outer Heaven, Realms of Eternal Decay.
36. The Internet, Hive Mind.
35. Preoccupations, New Material.
34. Split Cranium, I’m the Devil and I’m Okay.
33. Iceage, Beyondless.
32. Wolvennest, Void.
31. Nothing, Dance on the Blacktop.
30. Genocide Pact, Order of Torment.
29. Drake, Scorpion (Disc 1 or “Side A” in particular).
28. KEN Mode, Loved.
27. Secret Cutter, Quantum Eraser.
26. DJ Koze, Knock Knock.
25. Mammoth Grinder, Cosmic Crypt.
24. Eagle Twin, The Thundering Heard.
23. Confusion Master, Awaken.
22. Uncle Acid & The Dead Beats, Wasteland.
21. Pusha T, Daytona.
20. Beach House, 7.
19. Baptists, Beacon of Faith.
18. Pig Destroyer, Head Cage.
17. Uniform, The Long Walk.
16. Super Unison, Stella.
15. Soft Kill, Savior.
14. Conan, Existential Void Guardian.
13. Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe, Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe.
12. Windhand, Eternal Return.
11. The Soft Moon, Criminal.
10. Makaya McCraven, Universal Beings.
9. Spiritualized, And Nothing Hurt.
8. American Nightmare, American Nightmare.
7. Cult Leader, A Patient Man.
6Earthless, Black Heaven.
5. High on Fire, Electric Messiah.
4. Thou, Magus.
3. Daughters, You Won’t Get What You Want.
2. Yob, Our Raw Heart.
1Sleep, The Sciences.

Honorable Mentions: Recent records by Lucy Dacus; Soccer Mommy; Uada; Shopping; Shame; Haunt; Emma Ruth Rundle; Jaye Jayle.

Top Reissues/Lost Albums/Comps of 2018:

10. John Coltrane, Both Directions at Once.
9. Eric Dolphy, Musical Prophet.
8. Gene Clark, Gene Clark Sings for You.
7. Dur Dur of Somalia, Vol. 1, Vol. 2 & Unreleased Tracks.
6. Sonny Clark Trio, The 1960 Time Sessions.
5. The Temptations, Solid Rock.
4. The Temptations, Puzzle People.
3. The Temptations, Masterpiece. 
2. The Temptations, Psychedelic Shack.
1. The Temptations, Sky’s the Limit.

Best Shows of 2018: 

Psycho Las Vegas, Yob at Pappy & Harriets, Eyehategod, The Caleb Scofield benefit concert (Celestial A.K.A the band formerly known as Isis), Sabertooth Microfest Night 1, David Byrne, Judge, the illegal outdoor Wing & Claw guerrilla performance.

Miscellaneous/Random Obsessions:

UGK’s “Int’l Players Anthem”; Willie Hutch, The Mack; Marvin Gaye, Trouble Man; all things American Nightmare/Give Up The Ghost; Lil Ugly Mane “Throw Dem Gunz”; Phoebe Bridgers “Smoke Signals”; John Hartford “Tall Buildings”; Magnolia Electric Co. “Leave The City”; Aus-Rotten, And Now Back to Our Programming; NSC (Thanks SoDak); Agent Orange “Bloodstains”; Appalachian Terror Unit, It’s Far From Fucking Over; Amara Toure; The Supremes, Love Child.