Jan 29, 2019

Best Albums of 2018

2018 didn't feel to me to be a landmark year in music. Of course there was plenty of great stuff and discoveries aplenty but it felt a little short on masterpieces. There were two albums though that stood above the rest for me. Both released early in the year. Ty Segall, the most prolific artist working today?, gave us his magnum opus in January. A huge sprawling epic album that showed off his unique ability to rock out and also deliver a killer melody. Speaking of epic Car Seat Headrest went back to their 2011 album Twin Fantasy and totally re recorded and reworked the entire album. An emotional epic journey that I probably listened to more than album of 2018. There were notable releases by almost veterans in Beach House, Mount Eerie and Neko Case that totally satisfied. But there were also great discoveries in artists on their first or second or even third record. Such as Hop Along, Lucy Dacus, Vundabar or Lala Lala. Also a great year for women in music. So many talented artists out there. 7 of my top 20 were by female acts or fronted bands.

1. Freedom's Goblin-Ty Segall
2. Twin Fantasy (Face to Face)-Car Seat Headrest
3. 7-Beach House
4. God's Favorite Customer-Father John Misty
5. This One's For The Dancer and This One's For The Dancer's Bouquet-Moonface
6. Now Only-Mount Eerie
7. Bark Your Head Off, Dog-Hop Along
8. Some Rap Songs-Earl Sweatshirt
9. Hell-On-Neko Case
10. Be the Cowboy-Mitski
11. A Love Sleeps Deep-The Moondoggies
12. Historian-Lucy Dacus
13. Bottle It In-Kurt Vile
14. Kill the Lights-Tony Molina
15. The Whole Thing Is Just There-Young Jesus
16. Wanderer-Cat Power
17. Smell Smoke-Vundabar
18. I'll Sing-Shannen Moser
19. Skylight-Pinegrove
20. C'est La Vie-Phosphorescent
21. Smote Reverser-Oh Sees
22. Sparkle Hard-Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
23. Pissing Stars-Efrim Manuel Menuck
24. Popular Fiction-Gold Connections
25. Hope Downs-Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
26. The Lamb-Lala Lala
27. FM!-Vince Staples
28. WARM-Jeff Tweedy
29. A Productive Cough-Titus Andronicus
30. Snares Like A Haircut-No Age
31. Rebound-Eleanor Friedberger
32. I Need to Start a Garden-Haley Heynderickx
33. Joy-Ty Segall & White Fence
34. Marauder-Interpol
35. Sweet Unknown-Erika Wennerstrom
36. I'm Bad Now-Nap Eyes
37. How to Socialise and Make Friends-Camp Cope
38. The Diet-Cullen Omori
39. Lush-Snail Mail
40. Double Negative-Low
41. Ye-Kanye West
42. Lamp Lit Prose-Dirty Projectors
43. Vide Noir-Lord Huron
44. Goat Girl-Goat Girl
45. Dance Music-Mastersystem
46. A Poem Unlimited-U.S. Girls
47. Thunder Follows The Light-Mutual Benefit
48. In The Break-Night Shop
49. Abysskiss-Adrianne Lenker
50. In the Rainbow Rain-Okkervil River

Jan 28, 2019

Best Songs of 2018

My favourite song of 2018 wasn't actually written in 2018. It was written and released in 2011. Car Seat Headrest recorded an album in 'Twin Fantasy' back in 2011. It was a very lo-fi effort that he was never totally happy with. So he decided to go back into the studio and re write and re record everything. The results were immaculate. And one song in particular grabbed me like no other song did in 2018. Famous Prophets (Stars) is an epic journey of beauty and discovery. A sixteen minute trek deep into his heart and soul. Truly magnificent. There is no official video for this song, but I did find a live version recorded at the iconic Cat's Cradle in North Carolina. A worthy number one for me. In a very strong field. Here are my favourite 100 songs of 2018. 

1. Famous Prophets (Stars)-Car Seat Headrest
2. Alta-Ty Segall
3. Not Abel-Hop Along
4. Black Car-Beach House
5. Distortion-Mount Eerie
6. Curse of the I-5 Corridor-Neko Case
7. Ghost Town-Kanye West
8. Night Shift-Lucy Dacus
9. Washing Machine Heart-Mitski
10. Just Dumb Enough to Try-Father John Misty
11. Beach Life--In-Death-Car Seat Headrest
12. Now Only-Mount Eerie
13. How Simple-Hop Along
14. Harvest-Vundabar
15. Bodys-Car Seat Headrest
16. Lemon Glow-Beach House
17. My Lady's on Fire-Ty Segall
18. Zombie Conqueror-Dirty Projectors
19. My Friend-Ty Segall and White Fence
20. Two Slow Dancers-Mitski
21. The Echo of the World-Cloud Nothings
22. Dreamsong-Moonface
23. Gulf-Young Jesus
24. Easy Coming-The Moondoggies
25. Woman-Cat Power
26. Good to Be Alone-Erika Wennerstrom
27. You Left Me With An Ocean-Waxahatchee
28. December 24-Earl Sweatshirt
29. God's Favorite Customer-Father John Misty
30. One Trick Ponies-Kurt Vile
31. Minotaur Forgiving Knossos-Moonface
32. Earth-Mount Eerie
33. Rusalka, Rusalka/Wild Rushes-The Decemberists
34. I'm Bad-Nap Eyes
35. FUN!-Vince Staples
36. Bite the Hand-Boygenius 
37. Good Boy-Ty Segall and White Fence
38. Flies Bump Against the Glass-Oh Sees
39. Dancing and Blood-Low
40. Jasper's Theme-Tony Molina
41. The Games We Play-Pusha T
42. A Pearl-Mitski
43. The Bends-Earl Sweatshirt
44. Isabel-Gold Connections
45. Shiggy-Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
46. 5 Ft. Tall-Ty Segall
47. Match-The Moondoggies
48. How Hard Is It For a Desert to Die-Jeff Tweedy 
49. Talking Straight-Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
50. Hell-On-Neko Case
51. Me & My Dog-Boygenius
52. Tidal-No Age
53. Last Peace-Oh Sees
54. This Is America-Childish Gambino
55. Incidental Boogie-U.S. Girls
56. The Opener-Camp Cope
57. Relay-Vince Staples
58. Timefighter-Lucy Dacus
59. Jo-Haley Heynderickx
60. Bottle It In-Kurt Vile
61. Bell-Young Jesus
62. Look of Love-Hop Along
63. Pristine-Snail Mail
64. Mr Tillman-Father John Misty
65. Dissolution-Cloud Nothings
66. Joanna-Shannen Moser
67. Destroyer-Lala Lala
68. If You Really Love Nothing-Interpol
69. $$$-Vundabar
70. On a Finely Sewn Sleeve-Frog Eyes
71. You Are Here-Yo La Tengo
72. Crass Tattoo-Titus Andronicus
73. Nothing I Can Say-Tony Molina
74. Break-Thru-Dirty Projectors
75. Ancient Names (Part 1)-Lord Huron
76. Make Me a Song-Eleanor Friedberger
77. Icarus-Gold Connections
78. Drunk in LA-Beach House
79. Nowhere2go-Earl Sweatshirt
80. Oracle of the Maritimes-Neko Case
81. The Dream and the Light-Okkervil River
82. Wait by the River-Lord Huron
83. Burn the Stake-Goat Girl
84. No People to Person-Vundabar
85. Idea Man-Frog Eyes
86. Kite-Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
87. Deep Sea-Snail Mail
88. The Red Brick-Jeff Tweedy
89. C-Oh Sees
90. Break Da Law-21 Savage
91. Disarray-Preoccupations
92. The Rover-Interpol
93. A Lamb in the Land of Payday Loans-Efrim Manuel Menuck
94. Rings-Pinegrove
95. The Shell-Lucy Dacus
96. Stay-Cat Power
97. Fly-Low
98. Apeshit-The Carters
99. Middle America-Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
100. Garbage Bin-Tiny Little Houses

Jan 19, 2019

Favourite Films of 2018

The year in film was book ended for me by two Mexican masters. Near the beginning of 2018 we saw the masterful The Shape of Water, directed by Guillermo del Toro. It was a superb exercise in magical realism. I thought it deservedly won Best Picture. In that same crop of films were two other magnificent films in Lady Bird, a wonderful directorial debut for Greta Gerwig and Phantom Thread, yet another cinematic masterpiece from the great Paul Thomas Anderson. Through the rest of the year my favourites were generally smaller films that saw very limited release. Such as the extremely moving Leave No Trace and the sparse and beautiful Lean on Pete. My favourite big budget film was definitely First Man, a truly masterful film that I believe deserved a much wider audience than it got. The other big story was the rise of Netflix. The Coen Brothers got into the act with the superb The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Private Life was another small gem. But it was Alfonso Cuaron who delivered the best I believe. His deeply personal and stunning Roma was taken up by Netflix and it was a triumph in every sense of the word. I was lucky enough to see it on the big screen but thankfully it's also available in homes around the world. It might even be the first foreign language film to win Best Picture. We will soon found out.

1. Roma
2. The Shape of Water
3. Phantom Thread
4. Lady Bird
5. Call Me By Your Name
6. Leave No Trace
7. First Man
8. Lean on Pete
9. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
10. Isle of Dogs

Jan 6, 2019

Interpol @ Sydney Opera House

I do believe that Interpol have always been a classically great rock band. When they emerged from the New York scene over a decade ago their driving, stylish brand of rock hit a hard note with many fans. In fact their first two albums I believe have achieved classic status. 'Turn on the Bright Lights' and 'Antics' are just truly superb albums. I was lucky enough to see them a few times in that early period, firstly at the Metro and then later at the Enmore Theatre. They were totally thrilling shows. Like most bands though they slowly decline in quality. To be sure Interpol still make good albums, including last year's 'Marauder', but they aren't consistently great as those first two.

But live they definitely are still quite spectacular. So a first time show at the Sydney Opera House on Saturday night was too good to pass up. I'm glad we were there to witness such a spectacular show. As befitting now a vintage band they gave us a slew of tracks from those first two albums plus a dip into the other albums and naturally a nice selection from their latest (which I quite enjoyed). Of the newer tracks my favorite was 'If You Really Love Nothing'. Of the older ones well there are really just too many to mention. But if I must then the beautifully elegant 'NYC' would rate a mention. As would the power rush that is 'Roland' or the giddy heights of 'Say Hello to the Angels'. It was all pretty great, also thanks to near perfect sound and a spectacular light show. And then the encore. Holy cow. Probably their three greatest songs. The impossibly pulsating 'Not Even Jail', the perfectly melodic 'Evil' and the guitar riff that basically launched them in 'Obstacle 1'. A perfect way to end what was a great night.

Set List
Pioneer to the Falls
If You Really Love Nothing
Public Pervert
Say Hello to the Angels
Leif Erikson
The Rover
Number 10
Rest My Chemistry
All the Rage Back Home
The New
Slow Hands

Not Even Jail
Obstacle 1

Jan 2, 2019

Best Live Shows of 2018

Once again in 2018 I felt very privileged to witness some amazing live music. A show I witnessed in January at the Sydney Festival was so incredibly emotionally powerful that I was certain it would be the best show I saw in 2018. Mount Eerie was an emotional sledgehammer. One man and his guitar baring his soul and making many, many people cry. It was truly superb. But then I made a huge decision. I decided to attend Primavera Sound in Barcelona in May. The lineup was stacked beyond belief. Wolf Parade, Ty Segall, Car Seat Headrest, Beach House, Deerhunter, Vince Staples, Grizzly Bear, The National, The War on Drugs, Father John Misty, Rostam. I could go on and on. It was all definitely worth it. A once in a lifetime experience. Out of that I managed to see the first three mentioned at shows in other European cities. They were all great but the two that were my favourites were my all time favourite Wolf Parade in Prague. A near perfect night. A perfect night though was Car Seat Headrest in Amsterdam. Just a sublime night all round and my favourite show of 2018. The other highlights of 2018 were finally seeing the incredible Destroyer in Sydney. I never ever thought Dan Bejar would tour. I was so happy he did. And then to top off the year we attended Fairgrounds Festival in the Southern Highlands of NSW. Out of that sprung a very special show at the Sydney Opera House. The great songwriters Kevin Morby and Waxahatchee in concert was a perfect way to end the year.

1. Car Seat Headrest @ Paradiso, Amsterdam
2. Wolf Parade @ Divadlo Aracha, Prague
3. Mount Eerie @ City Recital Hall
4. Kevin Morby & Waxahatchee @ Sydney Opera House
5. Destroyer @ Oxford Art Factory
6. The War on Drugs @ Enmore Theatre
7. Ty Segall @ Trix, Antwerp
8. Grizzly Bear @ Sydney Opera House
9. Godspeed You! Black Emperor @ Metro Theatre
10. Father John Misty @ Enmore Theatre