Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lance Freely's Best of 2014

My best good pal Lance Freely has submitted his very first CNQ post, his faves from 2014. He has had excellent taste in music since 1986, so you can read and listen with assurance. Here's his post:

Morgan Delt - s/t
Goat - Commune
Ariel Pink - Pom Pom
White Fence - For the Recently Found Innocent
Black Lips - Under the Rainbow
Foxygen - ...and Star Power
Ty Segall - Manipulator
King Tuff - Black Moon Spell
Twin Peaks - Wild Onion
Thee Oh Sees - Drop

Feel like I started the year off with the Morgan Delt record. It was soundtrack music for freaks. Thick/syrupy psychedelic music with neat changes, vaguely sinister, and some back beat.

Goat's Commune feels like a bookend to the Morgan Delt album but I liked it so much it needed to be near the top of the list. It's afrobeat. At first it sounded like psychedelic rock with a tribal rock flavor, and its got that going on for it too. Moreover, there are raw vocal harmonies at just the right places. The vocals even more than the auxiliary percussionist (bongos) make this afrobeat. Think Fela Kuti patterns from turns out very Northern Europeans. Music for a weird world.

I'd like to know more about the Ariel Pink album. He did not have the Haunted Graffiti, and that does not seem to make a difference. Did he compose the tunes? What instrument did he write with? I have more questions than answers, but will go along for the ride anyway.

When I first saw the schedule of 2014 releases I was psyched to see White Fence and Ty Segall had records coming out in the summer. For the Recently Found Innocent has some very hard rocking parts, nice dynamics between the loud and soft parts, and it sounds more cohesive than any of his work to date, without compromising the sonic excursions and dead ends.

Under the Rainbow is not a compromise either, but the Black Lips continue their trajectory towards pop.

Foxygen thought they could skew expectations with a double "album" that is maybe not as well developed as their other records. Maybe it has too much filler. But there are still moments when it feels right and some the filler sounds good too.

Manipulator is long too but there is no real filler, he's really telling stories with each song, mostly character sketches, and it all seems essential to having a big record. The hooks are also bigger, pushing towards some sort of imaginary arena show.

King Tuff is at the same arena show.

Wild Onion is manic energy between punk rock and pop rock and pop punk. It also has several tight songs that would not sound out of place on the radio, if the radio weren't fucked.

Thee Oh Sees also seemed to progress, or at least shift, on the logical path for a good band. For several records you could count on an Oh Sees record being an energetic guitar romp, with an occasional flute rock jam, but the last two records have featured some songs that added more instrumentation, particularly the cellos and synths. Drop takes the new sonic ideas that the band has been feeling out and makes it into an entire record.

--Lance Freely

Saturday, December 13, 2014


I have been listening to a lot, I mean, a lot, of Oxnard, California's Nails the past couple of days after discovering them courtesy Google Play. Brutal metal, a lot of fun. Here's the title track from their latest album, Unsilent Death, released on Southern Lord Records back in January, and recorded with Converge's Kurt Ballou. It has some neat guitar noise I like as well:

This is from their 2013 album Abandon All Life. The whole album, man, absolutely punishing. I love it:

Southern Lord has been around since 1998, but this past week is the first I've heard of 'em. Here's some more cool metal from the label, this from LA, released back in October:

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Exotic Guitars: "I Will Wait For You" (Ranwood, #R-811, 1968)

Al Casey is a famed session musician originally from Phoenix, Arizona. He played with Lee Hazlewood, Sanford Clark, played guitar on Jody Reynolds' awesome Endless Sleep, wrote Duane Eddy's Ramrod, and was an original member of The Wrecking Crew, the famous group of studio musicians in 1960s Los Angeles. Casey's guitar can be heard on Pet Sounds, Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," and a ton of other popular music from the 1960s and beyond. He was also a member of the band on the Dean Martin Show.

Casey had a few hits of his own in the early 60s with the Al Casey Combo, but sometime around 1968 he was approached by Randy Wood to arrange and record some popular songs on guitar in a bid to attract a younger audience to Wood's new easy listening label, Ranwood. Wood was the founder and President of Dot Records, and had partnered with Lawrence Welk to form Ranwood Records after both left Dot when its parent company, Paramount Pictures, was sold to another company.

Thus was born The Exotic Guitars, which released several albums and singles through the late 60s and into the 1970s.

I Will Wait For You, was on the first Exotic Guitars self-titled album, and is the B-side to the single, a cover of Blueberry Hill, from the same LP. I Will Wait For You is the English version of a song from a French musical called The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. The music was composed by famous French composer Michel Legrand, and the English lyrics are by American lyricist Norman Gimbel, who wrote Sway, The Girl From Impenema, Killing Me Softly with His Song, among others.

Casey puts a 60s surf spin on I Will Wait For You, and it's the most, man. The most.

The 45 label credits Al Casey on guitar, but says I Will Wait For You and the A-side were both arranged and conducted by Bill Justis, he of Raunchy fame.

Al Casey passed away back in 2006. A Youtuber has posted the whole self-titled Exotic Guitars album, but still, here's I Will Wait For You.

Listen and download:

I Will Wait For You

If the embedded player above doesn't work for you, try this: I Will Wait For You

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

12 Month Rap Up (rap rap rap up)

I like to think of myself as someone with varied tastes who keeps their finger on the pulse of what's new and happening.  But really, I mostly just listened to the same old Elvis Costello albums for most of the year. But there were a few albums that broke me out of my rut! Run he Jewels 2 is #1, of course, but no one needs to hear me go on about that any further.

Chumped - Teenage Retirement

I don't think I've ever had the experience of hearing some new music that makes me nostalgic for music I didn't ever really like.  People describe this as "pop punk" but wait, I hate pop punk...right? Whatever.  This album is on constant replay in my car because it's definitely top tier car singing music.  I feel a little old to enjoy it as much as I do, it feels very much like quarter-life crisis music but I had a terrible quarter life crisis (turning 30 was no big deal but when I turned 25? I was a wreck) so I can still stand to wallow in that feeling sometimes. Something about Anika Pyle's voice cuts right to the core of those sorta whiny, sorta pathetic emotions while being so clear and beaming (and it cannot be denied, she is adorable.)  Honestly, this album is great, but so was their self-titled EP.  This is in no way a creative pick; they are on a bunch of year end lists but I can feel cool because I got into them slightly before that.

The official video for this song doesn't do it for me so I included instead this sloppy live video.

Big K.R.I.T -- Cadillactica

He is just a smooth dude, his flow just really gets me going.  He can rap fast, he can go slow, but it sounds effortless and whether he's just bragging, going into detailed descriptions of his car speakers, or more substantive stuff he's just cool as hell.  But for me, all the flow is the world is useless without hooks (if you say you don't have "Cadillac-lac-lac-lac" in your head all day, I'll know you're lying) and beats which this also delivers, he actually produces many of the tracks.  The 1-2 punch of My Sub Pt. 3 (Big Bang) and Cadillactica is like damn; "I can barely feel my face but I hit 'em with the bass." Even the skits are kinda funny, he doesn't want no given away biscuits! I like the way he says south in King of the South, I like the way he spells out Cadillactica, I like how he spells out K.R.I.T, he could spell out anything for me (I might also find him very attractive.)

Speedy Ortiz - Real Hair EP

I was nutso for their full-length Major Arcana last year and like this EP even more. I was never deep into Pavement so the constant comparison is just annoying to me; I hear the influence but let's just move on, shall we? I love her voice, the weirdo lyrics, the weird melodies.  My favorite track is "Everything's Bigger."

Tacocat - NVM

They are too cute and too fun.  I was initially lured in by Crimson Wave because, yes, I'd like some white wine and Vicodin during my "time of the month" at the beach. But then I heard Hey Girl and it was all over, namely because of their response to random men telling women to smile ( a pet peeve of mine since I work on a public reference desk; wouldn't it be way weirder if I just sat there smiling into space?): "oh what great advice/can't imagine why you're so nice!" with a heavy dose of playful sarcasm. The whole album is very fun, Psychedelic Quinceanera being another standout ("she will wear her teenage tiara/but she will party like a queen.")  It's not everyday that I find a fun band making funny, feminist jams like this!

Vince Staples - Hell Can Wait EP

I initially listened to this because I thought the cover was really eye-catching; straight up judging books by their covers. I thought I only liked fun hip hop but this EP is dead serious.  He's not going for crazy word play, the lyrics are mostly straight forward with the occasional interesting turn of phrase.  I think I vibe more on his tone and flow than the lyrics (I also think he's very cute, he's working that tooth gap.)  The beats are eerie and kind of menacing (that mournful jazzy intro on 65 Hunnid is the best example but the album starts with some hella spooky beats on Fire.) and many of the hooks get me all amped up and that's what really made me listen to it repeatedly. On Blue Suede, I didn't even realize what the "the bouquet, the bouquet" was at first, just thought it sounded super cool (it's about flowers on a grave, duh.) There's a song called Hands Up which is a Ferguson anthem that he claims isn't about Ferguson. Regardless "they expect respect and nonviolence/I refuse the right to be silent" is a great line.  He was affiliated loosely with Odd Future (his verse on Earl Sweatshirt's Hive got a lot of notice) but he seems to be making a name for himself on his own (which is fine by me because sometimes Odd Future acts try a little too hard to be weird for my taste.)

I did not include anything that I discovered in other year-end lists but really, the only thing I saw listed that was brand new to me is this Childbirth video I Only Fucked You as a Joke. "I can't make good decisions every day!"Childbirth features a member of Tacocat, so it all comes together.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Matt's Top Ten Favorite Songs of 2014

For my Top Ten Favorite Songs of 2014 list, my parameters were simple: songs released in 2014 that I listened to over and over again for a period of days/weeks/months. Weirdly, lots of Aussies made my Top 10 this year. I dunno what's up with that, I guess they're just doing stuff I like down there.

10. Hardcore from Australia, released back in November:

9. Female-fronted hc from Cali, released back in August. I just saw on their facebook page that the lead singer left the band back in September:

8. Suckily, my #8 pick, "CH Drivers Are High" by Chapel Hill's garage rockin' Flesh Wounds, won't embed for some reason. So click that link and listen to it. Fun stuff.

7. I heard this noisy rocker and had to have a hard copy. They sent the pretty blue vinyl 7" fast too - it came all the way from Australia.

6. Same went for this bratty gem, also from Australia, but it has not arrived as promptly as the Mesa Cosa 45; I'm still waiting on my copy of Titty Riot, in fact. The Sufferjets have assured me it's on its way, however.

5. I liked the new King Tuff album all the way through and enjoyed seeing them live. Black Moon Spell was in heavy rotation on my headphones, on the record player, and in my head for weeks.

4.This Drake cover, released back in January by CNQ's favorite Australian no-raver Simo Soo, is better than the original, IMO:

3. The #3 spot is tied with every Buck Biloxi song on Live At Saturn Bar and the Biloxi LP Culture Demanufactuer. As Dynamite Hemorrhage said on his podcast, "Buck Biloxi makes The Ramones sound like wizardy prog." Love it.

2.Dope Body's whole album "Lifer" is really good, but this song is my fave from it.

1.Run The Jewels 2 is my fave album of the year for sure. There's a reason it's on all the best ofs this year - it's un-putdownable.

Honorable mentions go to The Great Dismal Swamis, Postcode, Clara Engel, Anklepants, Adam Holtz, Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires, Future Death, Roomrunner, Triathalon, and Grave Mistake Records' Breakout and Asylum. All put out quality tunes this year. Thanks to them, all the artists on the Top Ten list, and all the other awesome bands, singers, and songwriters I've featured on CNQ this year. I don't post it if I don't like it! And also thanks to anybody out there in Internet-land who enjoys my little blog.

Got a Christmas post coming up with some Adam Holtz Christmas tunes and some Christmas-related old 45s you might not have heard before.

Addendum: I totally forgot Protomartyr's "Scum, Rise," which was heavy in my rotation at the beginning of the year.