Jonc’s Best of 2017 List!

cosima to build a house

from Cosima’s “To Build a House” video

As always, it was tricky to figure out which albums to put on these lists, because I listened to a hell of a lot of music.  I decided this time out it wasn’t just about repeated listenings, but albums that made me stop and notice.  The list is quite varied this time out, featuring electronic sounds, punk, a heartbreaking soul ballad, a greatest hits album and a live album, quirky alternative pop, and more.  And yes, I do suggest you check them out if you haven’t already.

2015 Albums
15. Lydia Ainsworth, Darling of the Afterglow
14. The Jesus and Mary Chain, Damage and Joy
13. Minus the Bear, VOIDS
12. UNKLE, The Road: Part 1
11. Liam Gallagher, As You Were
10. Rainer Maria, S/T
9. Spoon, Hot Thoughts
8. Elbow, Little Fictions
7. Sylvan Esso, What Now
6. Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Wembley Or Bust
5. LCD Soundsystem, American Dream
4. Elbow, The Best of
3. U2, Sounds of Experience
2. The Sound of Arrows, Stay Free
1. The New Pornographers, Whiteout Conditions

2015 Singles
15. Rainer Maria, “Lower Worlds”
14. Alice Merton, “No Roots”
13. UNKLE, “The Road”
12. Lydia Ainsworth, “Ricochet”
11. Sylvan Esso, “Die Young”
10. Elbow, “Magnificent (She Says)”
9. Spoon, “Hot Thoughts”
8. U2, “You’re the Best Thing About Me”
7. Portugal. The Man, “Feel It Still”
6. Gang of Youths, “What Can I Do If the Fire Goes Out?”
5. The Sound of Arrows, “Stay Free”
4. The New Pornographers, “High Ticket Attractions”
3. LCD Soundsystem, “Tonite”
2. Japandroids, “Near to the Wild Heart of Life”
1. Cosima, “To Build a House”

Many Welcome Returns: New Releases from Classic Bands
Chuck Berry, Chuck
Paul Draper, Spooky Action
Dishwalla, Juniper Road
Living Colour, Shade
Rainer Maria, S/T
Ride, Weather Diaries
Slowdive, Slowdive
The Darling Buds, Evergreen EP
Roger Waters, Is This the Life We Really Want?

Best Reissues and Box Sets
The Beatles, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Deluxe Edition
Lloyd Cole, In New York (Collected Recordings 1988-1996)
Curve, Doppelganger and Cuckoo
Golden Earring, Complete Studio Recordings
George Michael, Listen Without Prejudice/MTV Unplugged
Yoko Ono, Fly, Approximately Infinite Universe and Feeling the Space
Prince & the Revolution, Purple Rain Deluxe Expanded Edition
Radiohead, OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017
The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead [Deluxe Edition]
The The, Radio Cinéola Trilogy
U2, The Joshua Tree Super Deluxe Edition
The Who, Maximum A’s & B’s

The Singles 2017

Entry #1…the 2017 best-of compilation! Same mix rules apply as per the last few years.

Tape 1, Side 1
1. Spoon, “Hot Thoughts”
2. The New Pornographers, “High Ticket Attractions”
3. Japandroids, “Near to the Wild Heart of Life”
4. Elbow, “Magnificent (She Says)”
5. Cosima, “To Build a House”
6. Arcade Fire, “Everything Now”
7. Grizzly Bear, “Mourning Sound”
8. Portugal. The Man, “Feel It Still”
9. St Vincent, “Los Ageless”
10. LCD Soundsystem, “Tonite”

Tape 1, Side 2
1. Minus the Bear, “Last Kiss”
2. Radwimps, “Zenzenzense [Movie Version]”
3. Beck, “Up All Night”
4. U2, “You’re the Best Thing About Me”
5. Nothing But Thieves, “Sorry”
6. Sylvan Esso, “Just Dancing”
7. UNKLE, “The Road”
8. Rainer Maria, “Lower Worlds”
9. Alvvays, “Plimsoll Punks”
10. The Sound of Arrows, “Stay Free”
11. Decomposure, “Cordillera: Let’s Go Back to the TV Screen”

Tape 2, Side 1
1. The Districts, “If Before I Wake”
2. Cold War Kids, “Love Is Mystical”
3. The Jesus and Mary Chain, “Amputation”
4. Spoon, “Can I Sit Next to You”
5. Dishwalla, “Give Me a Sign”
6. The Charlatans UK, “The Same House”
7. Depeche Mode, “Where’s the Revolution”
8. Slowdive, “Star Roving”
9. Gorillaz, “Saturnz Barz”
10. Future Islands, “Ran”
11. Weezer, “Feels Like Summer”
12. Arcade Fire feat. Mavis Staples, “I Give You Power”

Tape 2, Side 2
1. Lydia Ainsworth, “Ricochet”
2. Radiohead, “Lift”
3. Wire, “Short Elevated Period”
4. Sylvan Esso, “Die Young”
5. Broken Social Scene, “Halfway Home”
6. Alt-J, “In Cold Blood”
7. The War on Drugs, “Pain”
8. Grandaddy, “Way We Won’t”
9. Maxïmo Park, “Get High (No, I Don’t)”
10. The The, “We Can’t Stop What’s Coming”
11. The New Pornographers, “Whiteout Conditions”

Tape 3, Side 1
1. Gord Downie, “Introduce Yerself”
2. Colony House, “You & I”
3. Alice Merton, “No Roots”
4. Hollerado, “Born Yesterday”
5. The Beatles, “Penny Lane [Stereo Mix 2017]”
6. Minus the Bear, “Robotic Heart”
7. The National, “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness”
8. Temples, “Certainty”
9. The Sound of Arrows, “Beautiful Life”
10. The New Pornographers, “Avalanche Alley”
11. LCD Soundsystem, “American Dream”

Tape 3, Side 2
1. Gang of Youths, “What Can I Do if the Fire Goes Out”
2. HAIM, “Want You Back”
3. Royal Blood, “Lights Out”
4. Wolf Alice, “Yuk Foo”
5. Tricky, “New Stole”
6. Jeff Lynne’s ELO, “Twilight [Live]”
7. Liam Gallagher, “Wall of Glass”
8. Death from Above, “Freeze Me”
9. Ride, “All I Want”
10. Slowdive, “Falling Ashes”
11. Gorillaz, “We Got the Power”

Coming up: Entry #2, the end-of-year favorites lists!

Coming Soon: The Best of 2017

radiohead lift

Thom Yorke is waiting anxiously for my end of year lists

Yep, it’s that time of the year again, where I’m juggling the Day Job, Christmas present purchasing (and wrapping, and mailing), whatever writing project I happen to be working on, posting my year-end review at the writing blog, creating my Best of Year compilation, and posting my Best of Year lists here.

As usual, I’ll hold up until the last week or so of this month before I post those last two, because I like giving December releases a chance at impressing me.  (Like the new U2 album, for instance.)  I will say 2017 has been quite an interesting year musically; it seemed like Nearly Every Single Band Jonc Loves put out an album this year!  And lots of solid career retrospectives.  There were also a lot of new finds that blew my mind as well.  I’m not sure if I can call it a banner year, but it certainly was quite enjoyable tunage-wise.

If anything, listening to music was definitely a highly-welcomed and much-needed escape from the ups and downs of Real Life.  And I’m pretty sure you know what my biggest headache was; the Day Job was the least of my stresses.  I won’t say I’m a pessimist in general, though I know all too often I let myself fall down that rabbit hole.  I kept a distant eye on what was going on, and I had my tunes to keep me sane and slightly distracted so I could stay positive.  And for that I’m eternally grateful.

More to come!

Year in Review, Part 4

And finally, here we are at the last quarter of the year!

Phish, Big Boat, released 7 October.  The band is positively perky on this album, full of bounciness and silliness that I haven’t heard since Billy Breathes twenty years ago.  It’s also more cohesive and catchier than Fuego, their previous outing.  And there’s some amazing harmony going on with this track right here.

Green Day, Revolution Radio, released 7 October.  Another excellent album from the boys from the East Bay.  While it may not be as radio friendly as American Idiot, it’s just as angry and in your face.

BT, _, released 14 October.  BT is a fascinating musician in that you’re never quite sure what his next sound is going to be like.  He’s a great remixer and his electronica stretches from glitchy to sublime.  And then there’s this album, which is essentially an electronic classical album of sorts.  It’s stunning and lovely and rates right up there with the work of my favorite new composer, Mason Bates.  And of course this got a ton of play during writing sessions.

Bowling for Soup, Drunk Dynasty, released 14 October.  BfS is up to their goofy, punky best as always with this Kickstarter-funded album (you should check out the KS page just to watch the video where they forget they’re trying to sell the album and talk about–you guessed it–drinking beer).  It’s a strong and solid album all the way through, and a hell of a lot of fun.

Jagwar Ma, Every Now and Then, released 14 October.  This album, interestingly enough, reminded me of Primal Scream’s Screamadelica, in that it’s a flawless mixture of melodic indie rock and blissed out dance grooves.  And “O B 1” is definitely my Track of the Year, with its ticking ambient/chunky riff mix and infectious beat.  The album itself is up there in my top ten as well.

American Football, American Football, released 21 October.  WOO!  New American Football!  Given that their previous album was 17 years ago, that’s a long wait, but it was quite worth it.  These guys were part of the original laid-back, wistful, math rock sound that included Low and early Modest Mouse back in the late 90s, so it’s great to have them back.

Jimmy Eat World, Integrity Blues, released 21 October.  Glad to see these guys are still going strong after all these years, and still writing songs that stick in my head for hours.  A solid album all the way through.

The Radio Dept, Running Out of Love, released 21 October.  Yet another Wait–they have a new album out?? release for 2016, and it’s excellent.  Dark and weird and groovy and twitchy all over the place — which is what makes me like them so much.  Really dug the production on this one a lot.

Sleigh Bells, Jessica Rabbit, released 11 November.  I really love their Wall of Crunchy Guitar sound (it’s great for headphones when you’re on a plane or at the gym), and I love the way they slip around their melodies, making them playful and in your face at the same time.

A Tribe Called Quest, We got it from here…thank you 4 your service, released 11 November.  YES!  Another ATCQ album finally arrives, and it’s a stunner.  It might be their last one they release, but it’s a hell of tight one.

Metallica, Hardwired…to Self-Destruct, released 18 November.  Ending on a surprising note, considering I’m not much of a metalhead at all, but this is one hell of a great album, the best they’ve done in the past few years.  They still have a few songs here and there reminiscent of the more radio friendly Load/ReLoad era, but they’ve returned (finally) to some the best axe-wielding they’ve put on record in quite a while.

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Coming up next week: The End of Year Lists!  Favorite songs, and my year-end mixtape!

 

Year in Review, Part 3

Back again for Q3!

Blink-182, California, released 1 July.  I’ll admit, I’m still a Blink fan partially because Travis is such an insanely great fast-speed drummer.  This new album feels like a return to their happier, punkier days of the late 90s-early 00s, and it’s a lot of fun to listen to.

The Avalanches, Wildflower, released 8 July.  When was that last album of theirs?  2000?  2001?  Far too long.  They’ve lightened up on the sampling (a bit) for obvious financial reasons, and their songs aren’t nearly as weird and goofy as the ones on Since I Left You, but on the other hand, they’ve excelled at creating groovy vibes and insanely catchy tracks like the above.

Lou Rhodes, theyesandeye, released 29 July.  Lamb’s lead singer released a lovely solo album featuring some of her best work outside that band.  Her style of singing works well in a non-electronic atmosphere here, and she also does a hell of a great job covering The XX as well.

Dog Party, ‘Til You’re Mine, released 5 August.  One of my favorite local bands releases their fifth album — the first after drummer Lucy’s high school graduation (!!) and as always, it’s all kinds of fun to listen to.  Short econo punk that would make the Ramones and Fuzzbox proud.

De La Soul, …and the Anonymous Nobody, released 25 August.  So happy to see these guys back at it…one of the best hip-hop groups around.  I’m also impressed by the DIY nature of this album as well: the samples used were recorded using live musicians (their jamming would be recorded and various bits used for the samples), and the entire project was funded via Kickstarter.  Even a lot of the non-music packaging and post-production was done either by them or by friends and acquaintances.

Banks & Steelz, Anything But Words, released 26 August.  Who knew that the dark, driving alt-rock of Interpol would fit so perfectly with the blistering delivery of RZA?  And that these guys met up frequently to play chess?  This match-up delivers one hell of a strong punch from both sides and it’s one of my favorites of the year.

The Wedding Present, Going, Going… released 2 September.  The Weddoes are back!  Another Kickstarter-funded album that was well worth the wait.  Full of their trademark dreamy and crunchy riffs on top of lovely melodies.

Wilco, Schmilco, released 9 September.  Wilco has always been just this side of weird, and their new album proves once again that they can pull it off and still be fun and enjoyable to listen to. Definitely a band off in their own universe, but they’ve become quite comfortable and agile within it.

Bastille, Wild World, released 9 September.  I wasn’t quite sure how they were going to top their fantastic debut album from a few years ago, but they’ve pulled it off by being bigger, stronger, and more experimental with their sounds.  They’ve also injected a bit of humor into the mix this time out, which makes a lot of the songs that much more fun to listen to.

Preoccupations, Preoccupations, released 16 September.  The band formerly known as Viet Cong returns with a new album that sounds straight out of 1985-era goth that you’d expect to hear on Homestead Records, and it’s a fascinating listen.  [Also, the above video perfectly fits with early era 120 Minutes, doesn’t it?]

Against Me!, Shape Shift with Me, released 16 September.  One of their most melodic releases that I can think of, and some of their best work as well.  The songs feel freer and livelier.  Another frequent player during the Day Job as well as writing sessions.

Beach Slang, A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings, released 23 September.  Another album that sold me on first listen, even before the album was done.  Equal parts Replacements and Dinosaur Jr, there’s a hell of a lot of great pop-punk going on here.  Definitely in my top ten of the year.

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Next up, the final quarter of 2016….and of course, I’ll follow up with the lineup for the end-of-year compilation mix and my Top Albums and Songs of the year!

 

Year in Review, Part 2

As you can tell, I haven’t quite been sticking to my schedule nearly as well as I’d hoped.  I’d blame it on the procrastination or the Day Job or the election or whatever, but it really has been a bunch of things.  I started writing this one up last night after doing much of our Christmas wrapping, but had to stop short so I could get working on my editing.  I’m hoping in the new year I’ll be a little more on the ball, yeah?

Well hey, here we go with Part 2 of my favorite albums of 2016, and Q2 was filled with a hell of a lot of great albums that I’m still playing heavily months later.  Enjoy!

Cheap Trick, Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello, released 1 April.  Thought I’d start off this one with an unexpected surprise — I’ve been a longtime Cheap Trick fan [I’m talking “Surrender” era here, so that means I AM OLD] so I was quite pleased to hear that they had a new album out this year.  This isn’t the poppy CT from the late 80s, mind you.  This is the crunchier, rockier CT from the late 70s – early 80s.  One of my favorites of the year.

M83, Junk, released 8 April.  Where 2011’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming was the sound of 70s LA glitz and 80s cinematic vistas, Junk seems to take the idea of the one goofy track from that album (you know, that one about turning into frogs) and expands on it.  The end result sounds like a mix between 80s kids shows on PBS and theme songs to Love Boat episodes.  And yet somehow it works without being cloying or embarrassing.  Even if the album cover does look like a Happy Meal box.

Lush, Blind Spot EP, released 15 April.  One of the best shoegazey bands of the 90s returns after twenty years for a tour and a new EP, and it was well worth the wait.  It’s just as lovely and shimmery as their previous records.  Yet another constant play during my writing sessions.

Wire, Nocturnal Koreans, released 22 April.  Essentially a mini-album of leftovers from the sessions for their previous album (2015’s self-titled), but nonetheless there’s not a wasted track here.  They’ve settled quite nicely into their current iteration as an indie-rock band with a sparse yet powerful sound.

RWBY Vol 3 soundtrack, released 3 May.  I found this online animation series quite by accident back in 2014 (I think I saw the Vol 1 soundtrack on eMusic as an endcap suggestion), and I quite enjoy it.  The soundtracks are great as well, very Paramore-ish and a lot of fun to listen to during my writing sessions.

Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool, released 8 May.  “Doot doot OH HEY we have a new album out.  Here you go.”  And the fans trip all over themselves downloading and liveblogging it! Heh.  Seriously, though, it’s a great album.  Haunting, gorgeous, tense, and dreamy.  Another writing session soundtrack!

Nothing, Tired of Tomorrow, released 13 May.  I do likes me some crunchy alternative metal, especially if it’s as melodic as Nothing is.  I’d never heard of this band before hearing this album streamed on NPR.com, and within two songs I definitely had that HOLY CRAP I NEED THIS response.  And once this was out, I quickly downloaded it along with the rest of their available albums and singles, because I loved it that much.  One of my top ten albums of the year.

Mark Pritchard, Under the Sun, released 13 May.  On the other end of the spectrum we have some lovely quiet ambient electronic from one of its best producers (and one half of Global Communication, whose 76:13 I still listen to on a regular basis while writing).  The album feels haunted at times — kind of hinting at being alone on a desolate world, come to think of it — but it also has its moments of light humor (“Hi-Red” sounds a bit like Mark playing with the settings on his keyboard more than anything else) to balance it out.

Beth Orton, Kidsticks, released 27 May.  Beth is one of those ‘off in her own universe’ songwriters, but without the weirdness that sometimes derails Tori and Bjork.  Her music has also retained that not-quite-electronic sound that she captured so well back on 1996’s Trailer Park, letting it sound both natural and ambient at the same time.

Garbage, Strange Little Birds, released 10 June.  Probably my favorite album of theirs after their self-titled debut back in 1995.  There’s some great guitar crunch going on here, and Shirley Manson can still belt it out effortlessly.  One of my top ten favorites of the year.

The Shelters, The Shelters, released 10 June.  As my sister said to me, ‘Dig that Rickenbacker sound!’  These guys picked up where Jet left off some time ago with the Swinging London-influenced sound, and I couldn’t be happier.  That this was released on Capitol makes absolute sense; they would have fit in quite nicely next to the Beatles as a great 60s guitar combo.

The Temper Trap, Thick As Thieves, released 10 June.  This band has grown to be one of those ‘I haven’t heard it yet but I’ll definitely download it’ bands of mine, and their newest has not let me down.  The title track is in my top ten favorite songs of the year as well.

DJ Shadow, The Mountain Will Fall, released 24 June.  The always amazing DJ Shadow brings forth an album that features less samples and a lot more hard sounds, giving his already experimental vibe a grittier edge.  I’ve been putting this one on during my writing sessions when I need an angrier vibe.  [The above track is NSFW lyrically, but they sure do fit the video, given the present political atmosphere.]

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Coming soon, Part 3, in which we check out some excellent late summer tunage!

The Singles 2015

…and as promised, here’s my 2015 Best of compilation!  A quirky mix to be sure.  Alternative, indie, pop, techno, and even alt-metal this time out.  I stayed with the format I’ve been using for the past couple of years: playlists of roughly ninety minutes which can be split into two forty-five minute ‘sides’, just like the end of year compilations I used to make back in the day.

Hope you enjoy!

TAPE ONE, Side 1:
1. Big Data, “The Business of Emotion”
2. The Decemberists, “Make You Better”
3. Guster, “Simple Machine”
4. Beck, “Dreams”
5. Best Coast, “California Nights”
6. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, “In the Heat of the Moment”
7. Public Service Broadcasting, “Go!”
8. Frank Turner, “Get Better”
9. The Vaccines, “Handsome”
10. Jamie xx, “Loud Places”
11. Unknown Mortal Orchestra, “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone”

TAPE ONE, Side 2:
1. Failure, “Hot Traveler”
2. Wire, “Joust & Jostle”
3. MS MR, “Painted”
4. Wolf Alice, “Moaning Lisa Smile”
5. Death Cab for Cutie, “Black Sun”
6. Young Empires, “The Gates”
7. The Arcs, “Outta My Mind”
8. Stereophonics, “I Wanna Get Lost with You”
9. Robert DeLong, “Don’t Wait Up”
10. Editors, “Marching Orders”
11. The King Khan & BBQ Show, “Alone Again”

TAPE TWO, Side 1:
1. Foals, “What Went Down”
2. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, “Ballad of the Mighty I”
3. Blur, “Go Out”
4. Dog Party, “Peanut Butter Dream”
5. The Helio Sequence, “Stoic Resemblance”
6. Wolf Alice, “Bros”
7. Courtney Barnett, “Pedestrian at Best”
8. Alabama Shakes, “Don’t Wanna Fight”
9. Silversun Pickups, “Nightflight”
10. Best Coast, “Heaven Sent”
11. Editors, “No Harm”

TAPE TWO, Side 2:
1. Unknown Mortal Orchestra, “Ur Life One Night”
2. Kurt Vile, “Pretty Pimpin”
3. Sleater-Kinney, “Surface Envy”
4. A Silent Film, “Paralysed”
5. Steven Wilson, “Perfect Life”
6. AWOLNATION, “Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)”
7. Nothing But Thieves, “Trip Switch”
8. Cayucas, “Hella”
9. Failure, “Mulholland Dr.”
10. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, “S.O.B.”
11. Mikal Cronin, “Ready”

TAPE THREE, Side 1:
1. Public Service Broadcasting, “Gagarin”
2. Veruca Salt, “The Sound of Leaving”
3. Belle and Sebastian, “Perfect Couples”
4. Motion City Soundtrack, “Lose Control”
5. Caspian, “Arcs of Command”
6. The Verve Pipe, “If I Could Make You Feel”
7. Django Django, “Giant”
8. FFS, “Johnny Delusional”
9. Brandi Carlile, “Alibi”
10. Low, “No Comprende”

TAPE THREE, Side 2:
1. Mark Ronson, “Uptown Funk”
2. Toro y Moi, “Empty Nesters”
3. Panda Bear, “Boys Latin”
4. Blur, “There Are Too Many of Us”
5. Chvrches, “Never Ending Circles”
6. American Wrestlers, “Kelly”
7. New Order, “Restless”
8. Wire, “Harpooned”
9. Hot Chip, “Dancing in the Dark”

*EDIT: The Spotify playlists didn’t seem to be working, so I took them away.  Sorry about that.  The YouTube video links are now up and ready to go!