Best of 2014:
I think the most successful horror movies are the ones that make you feel totally disgusted with yourself after watching them. The genre is meant to unnerve and disgust, and if the content of these films can transcend the screen and bleed into your psyche, then they have accomplished their mission. Like Cannibal Holocaust, Martyrs, and Salo; Totem causes feelings of unease, anxiety and terror. Reminiscent of Burned Mind-era Wolf Eyes, this album is a lesson in depravity. Why did I give Totem my number one spot? Because I found this abomination of an album to be extremely disturbing and uncomfortable, and like the previous films mentioned above, it transcended the turn table and crept it’s way into my brain the same way a cold draft does when the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. So, White Suns, job well done; your albums are the soundtracks to walking in on your kid torturing the household pet.
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2. Swans – To Be Kind, Young God Records
Yeah, yeah, yeah- I don’t even want to hear it- “Everyone likes Swans because they’re supposed to”; well, guess what haters, you’re right, everyone should like Swans. Along with this album, their last three records destroyed. To Be Kind is another provocative chapter in Gira’s sepulchral sound and legacy.
Turning grind metal into a piece of art is like trying to cum when you are in the middle of fucking and you notice your cat snuck in the room. It’s damn near impossible. Longhena is the equivalent of getting ear-raped by long division while shooting a machine gun in each hand. Read the full review here.
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Yeah, that’s right- Lana Del Ray, America’s Sweetheart, put out one of the catchiest pop records of 2014. Whether or not she wrote any of the music really doesn’t matter; I just want to mainline her voice and fade into that dreamy, drug-haze that Lana’s soul seems to frolic in. As long as she stays away from rapping I think we will be friends forever. On a side note, I promise you the Kid’s Bop version of the track Ultraviolence is almost as good as the original. You can read my full review here.
One thing I have always wished Full of Hell would do is get noisier; and guess what? These young’uns teamed up with grandpa Merzbow and released a sonic assault of pure unbridled terror. Not since Discordance Axis’s Jouhou and The Inalienable Dreamless along with all three of the Gridlink’s full lengths, has a grind record breathed fresh air into such a stale genre. Full of Hell and Merbow have created metal that is thoughtful, precise and punishing and lyrically not about fucking your grandma with a cheese grater and all that yawn inducing gore-grind shit or those grind bands that would sell their dicks to be Charles Bronson, with wacky-funny ironic songs about wacky-funny irony. No my friends, this record is changing the diapers of those bands and hopefully paving the way for other bands to experiment with the genre too.
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Every now and then I like to go on Tiny Mixtapes and read how they can make a Parquet Courts album review read like a peer reviewed essay on new age transcendentalism or a Torche review read like a quantum physics dissertation when in reality, underneath the smoke and mirrors, lies mediocre snoozers. Every now and then, I will check out a track posted in their reviews if it’s a band I have never heard before. Perfume Genius happened to be one of them, and for once, Tiny Mixtapes and I were on the same page. I watched the music videos for “Queen”- which played out like a modern day Queen or old-school Bowie song and “Grid” which had a little hint of Suicide and a video that I wasn’t sure I should be laughing at or repulsed by. Either way, I needed the whole album.
Too Bright, as poppy and beautifully arranged as it is, is a harrowing ride into the soul of this enigma known as Perfume Genius (Mike Hadreas), the struggles of gender identity, and the trials and tribulations of being homosexual (along with all its stigmas). Most of the lyrics are haunting and brutally honest while others are tinged with dark humor and condescension; “Fool” is a great example of this and my favorite track on the album. While all the gays are busy collecting and worshiping stool samples from Iggy Azalea and Beyonce, real gay artists that write all of their own music and share their struggles are unfortunately ghosts of this community.
I have yet to hear a band bring back this style of breezy 60’s pop and succeed. Do yourself a favor and get this record and let Pure X take you on a magic carpet ride through the starry heavens; a shaggy carpet covered in quaaludes, “love”, roach burns and LSD. Read the full review here.
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I am usually bummed out by the disingenuous “revivals” and music trends that get barfed onto us, but this shoegaze and Brit-rock revival has been surprisingly awesome. Bands keep popping up out of nowhere and releasing some quality records; the Cheatahs being one of them. In terms of shoegaze, they fit comfortably on the Ride, Swervedriver, Pale Saints end of things. The majority of the album is pretty upbeat, and the hooks were yanked right out of the era that birthed this genre. Cheatahs is how you appropriately pay tribute to your influences without looking like a total hack. This is a great first album, and I hope these guys keep up the momentum.
I know this band name kinda sucks, and I have a lot of friends that didn’t give Joanna Gruesome the time of day because of it, but this album is awesome. Ripping, noodley, shoegazey noise-pop full of twists and turns in the vein of the Swirlies and Starlight Conspiracy. I saw this band with Perfect Pussy and live they are just as excellent. I also love when bands call out bro-dude moshers and vocalist Alanna Gruesome had no problems doing this and put some meathead on blast at a nearly sold out show for showing everyone “what he’s made of”. Save that shit for the circle jerk BRO. Read my full review of Weird Sister here.
10. Alraune – Process of Self-Immolation, Profound Lore Records
Speaking of trends these days, Black Metal bands are about as abundant and “hip” as tucking your jeans into your knee-highs; so sorting through the basics sometimes just comes down to trusting a good record label, and Profound Lore is one of them. Just like 2013, Profound Lore is dominating my best-of list and I bought this record without hearing it just for the soul fact it was on this label. Process of Self-Immolation has all the innards of a black metal record, but the hooks are shoegazey at times and infectiously drill themselves into your brain, and the drum work on this album is unrelenting and vicious and doesn’t sound like the typical approach to black metal drumming, adding an extra depth to the music. Check out the title track; it’s eleven minutes long, but if you had time to read all the way to this point, you have time.
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These are the other albums of 2014 you should definitely own. They are in NO SPECIFIC ORDER…..and remember, I am only human and haven’t heard everything that came out this year so don’t ask “why isn’t the new ___________ on your list?” Why not? A. I thought it sucked or wasn’t worthy of my top 30ish. B. I haven’t heard it
11.Yautja – Songs of Descent, Forcefield Record
12. FKA Twigs – LP1, XL Recordings
13.The Austerity Program – Beyond Calculation, Controlled Burn Records
14. Bukkake Moms – The Chronic
15. Shellac – Dude Incredible, Touch & Go Records
16. Occultaion – Silence in the Ancestral House,Profound Lore Records
17. Child Abuse –Trouble In Paradise, Skin Graft Records
18. Child Bite – Strange Waste, Housecore Records
19. Warsawwasraw – Sensitizer, Three One G Records
20.Doomsday Student – A Walk Through Hysteria Park, Three One G
21. Jessica Lee Mayfield – Make My Head Sing, ATO Records
22. Animal Lover – Guilt, Learning Curve Records
23. Stagnant Pools – Geist
24. Clipping – CLPPNG, Sub Pop
25. We Need Secrets – Melancholy and the Archive, Saint Marie
26. Grass Is Green – Vacation Vinny, Exploding In Sound Records
27. Oozing Wound – Earth Suck, Thrill Jockey
28. Agollach – The Serpent & The Sphere, Profound Lore Records
29. Blood Pheasant – Traum, Tor Johnson Records
30. Tombs – Savage Gold, Relapse Records
31. Thou – Heathen, Gilead Media
Worst of 2014 List:
So instead of compiling a list of all the obvious musicians/bands that we all know suck; here is 10 of my least favorite things of 2014…in no particular order…
1. The U.S. Government, the GOP and the Interstate Crosscheck Program:
I could write an encyclopedia series on why our government is pure evil and doesn’t give a shit about you or me, but things are clearly getting worse and worse. But, for 2014, the Interstate Crosscheck Program aka Voters Purge ,is a low blow. During the senatorial elections this year, the GOP used this process to remove 2.1 million legitimate votes out of the poles (especially in swing states) under the guise of “double voting” (Double voting can be a felony or worse). I am not going to go into all the details, but please read this and pass it on, this is as about as corrupt as a priest in a kiddy pool. If you are Black, Hispanic, or Asian and are a resident of the United States, I recommend that you and your family members read about this and see if your name or their names are on this list.
2. White Women Rapping:
It wasn’t funny when white grandmas were “busting a rhyme” on America’s Funniest Home Videos or when at GOP conventions a “black song” came on and all the white people in cowboy hats did that “raise the roof” move. To throw some gasoline on this trashcan fire of this never successful novelty, we now have Iggy Azalea. Fortunately for Nicki Minaj, Azalea may have stolen the throne for Queen of Clowntown. Instead of Minaj’s wacky faces, redundant rhyme and lyrical formats, and your all around clown antics; Iggy Azalea brings us whiney, cartoonish “raps” in Dave Coulier voices about materialism, classism, booze, and other meaningless sequences of words, oh wait…but shit yo, she’s in da “murda bizness”,
Here’s just a little taste of her prolific lyrical styling, “I said, Baby, I do this, I thought that you knew this. Can’t stand no haters and honest, the truth is, And my flow retarded, they speak it depart it, Swagger on super, I can’t shop at no department better get my money on time, if they not money, decline.”
She and the rest of the white women in the “game”, need to be blasted into space without helmets; NASA! (You see what I did there? You just got Minaj’d!) Read this Azealia Banks interview and watch her totally hit the nail right on the head.
Horrible Mention: The Joan Rivers of hip-hop, celebrity gossip rapper, Eminem apparently put out another whiney, white trash, terrorist attack on hip-hop sometime this year and, no surprise, is trying to get his fetus face back into the spotlight by condoning and promoting violence against women, “I may fight for gay rights, especially if the dyke is more of a knockout than Janay Rice. Play nice? Bitch I’ll punch Lana Del Rey right in the face twice, like Ray Rice in broad daylight in the plain sight of the elevator surveillance / ‘Til her head is banging on the railing, then celebrate with the Ravens,” –Eminem
Yep, that’s where we’re at folks. Someone needs to cram this roach-weasel back into the turd trailer he fell out of. It’s one of those faces and voices I was hoping would stay buried forever in the embarrassing early portion of the 2000’s next to Fred Durst and Nelly.
3.Wacky Facial Hair/Man-Buns/Lumbersexual:
Wacky Facial Hair: Yup, this ship set sail a few years ago along with that Civil War/ Great Depression snooze fest brand of “folk”/indie that was clogging up any spotlight from bands that weren’t all white kids from the burbs singing about building railroad tracks, chain gangs, the Great Depression, and coal mining. For some reason 1950’s cartoon villain facial hair is still a thing, but so is small pox so I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised.
Man-Buns: Nope. Let’s stop this before it reaches critical mass.
Lumbersexual: Do I like beards? Yes. Do I have one? Yes. Do I wear flannel? Yes. Do beards make dudes more attractive? Most definitely. The reason I have had a beard is because when I am clean-shaven I look like a character from a Jim Henson movie. Maybe other dudes with beards have one to cover up their goblinesque features as well. On the other hand, does a city full of dudes with the same Doc Martins/Tims, suspenders, side part, flannel shirt, beard sculpt, and cuffed jeans appeal to me and seem genuine? Nope.
I won’t be saying any names, but lets just say this shit has gone too far. The first couple, yeah fine, but come on! There isn’t a whole lot you can do with that style, and from the looks of it the people in these bands don’t even really try to do anything different with it anyways. If your’re totally complacent with ripping off everything Ian Curtis created, I wouldn’t call yourself a fan of his art but more of a plagiarist. Do some tap dancing on a block of ice then we can talk (even though that’s an urban legend…). And now everyone is ripping off that shirt logo with the squiggly lines; even Wu-Tang has one.
Bacon socks? Bacon toilet paper? Bacon t-shirts? Bacon toothpaste? Bacon cupcakes? A unicycle made out of bacon? Bacon defibrillators? Nitroglycerbacon? Bacon blockers? Try bacon flavored arsenic! America needs more bacon like I need a Velveeta Cheese enema. What’d that old queen say? Oh yeah, MEAT IS MURDER.
Bunch. Of. SHIT. Like the senate, it’s a bunch of washed up old who-gives-a-fuck actors and directors that won’t seem to die. I challenge everyone to start boycotting mainstream cinema unless it is something you are dying to see, which I’m assuming isn’t much because most of these films are CGI’d garbled messes with a paper-thin plot written and directed by 8-yr olds. Other than that, let this shit rot. Especially the horror genre- 2014 is the biggest disappointment so far in horror history–anyone involved with Insidious, Saw, Paranormal Activity, or the Conjuring needs to leave horror alone just like U2 and Weezer need to stop making music.
I have been in a touring band for a few years and I have booked shows for a long time. I have friends who have done this for just as long that can attest to this phenomenon: one thing I cannot fucking stand is bands on a DIY tour who book through people WHO AREN’T BOOKING AGENTS and then blame you for the low turnout at their shows! I get that it sucks when on a weeknight, 5 people show up to see your band; but all the booking my friends and I do is for free. All the time I spend promoting and flyering for your shows is all volunteered time that I generally do not have. Aside from that, I have not once taken money from a door for doing this, and I never will.
I have booked quite a few shows this year; many of them were booked at venues ran by people doing me a favor to do the band I am booking a favor, but I have gotten some shitty attitudes this year. Guess what? You ain’t fucking Lightning Bolt or Converge! You get that? One special band in particular that will remain nameless had the balls to get pissed at the local band and show booker and shit talked them on Facebook for not “bringing people out”; nevermind the fact that the local band and booker liked this band and wanted to do them a favor by getting a local on the bill to bring people out. Check your ego’s at the door BRO’S.
There have been many nights where Tinsel Teeth played to a Tuesday night crowd of 15 people and you know what we did? We thanked the venue, the person who booked the show and the fans that attended and proceeded to play as hard as we possibly could.
Aside from the people with heads up their asses, the majority of bands I have booked were super friendly and appreciative and are the reason I continue to do it.
8. Facebook Activism:
#idontneedtoactuallyvolunteeranywherebecauseivolunteeronfacebook Guess what assholes? Patting yourselves on the back via Facebook and tip-tap-typing away isn’t giving back to your community. You know what does? Physical man-power and your physical presence a.k.a. Volunteer Work. We all have been guilty of this, but I made a deal with myself this year that I will no longer be getting involved with political and moral battles on intangible forums such as Facebook. It’s what our government wants us to do and is there as a tool to distract, subdue, and divide us. Every now and then if I can find an article that is from a reputable website that I think is important I will gladly share it, but indulging in fruitless debates will be a thing of the past. Remember, you better not disagree with your white friends because if you do you are a racist, homophobic assimilationist, cis-hetero, transphobic, misogynistic, puppy-molesting, ignorant size-ist that doesn’t even provide trigger warnings with your posts.
Hear me out first–if you are among the people who are constantly downloading music and using Spotify, promise me you are going to see these bands when they are come through your town and at least buying some sort of merch. There are a ton of hardworking bands taking time off of their jobs and investing their own personal money and time into touring and creating merch. When you can no longer make money physically selling your music, musicians need to find some other way of generating revenue. Renting or maintaining a van, recording, and gear aren’t paid for with baked goods and dreams: it unfortunately involves American currency. If you can take someone’s art for free, you can toss them a bone.
Last time we came back from tour, I had a mountain of cassettes from awesome bands we played with. Want to know where that mountain is now? In a pile on the floor of my bedroom somewhere. Where am I supposed to listen to these tapes? During my time travels to my mom’s mini-van in 92’? I get that tapes are cheap and easy to replicate, but like most tape decks, the ones on my ancient stereo-CD- turntable-cassette deck combo also shit the bed without surprise. Like the rest of 2014, most people listen to music on their computers and cell phones. If I can’t get a digital copy of it then it will just become a carpet fossil with my VHS copies of Problem Child 2, Blood Feast, and Jason Takes Manhattan.