02.16.2020
Walter Martin
The World at Night

Charming.

02.12.2020
Sarah Mary Chadwick
Please Daddy

The spirits of Bright Eyes and Chad VanGaalen are alive and well (and freaky) in the work of Sarah Mary Chadwick. Just look at that album cover while reading this list of the first three tracks on the record: "When Will Death Come," "I'm Not Allowed in Heaven," "Please Daddy." Then take all of that borderline disturbing content, and combine it with some impressively handsome sounding chamber folk/pop, and you're either in or you're out. Frankly, I'm in.

02.12.2020
Chrome Ghost
The Diving Bell

Every year it happens. December rolls around, I take some time and try to write up my Best of the Year lists, everyone counts down to midnight, the new year rings in, and I suddenly discover a handful of albums from the previous year that probably would've made the list had I actually heard them in time. This Chrome Ghost album the first one of 2020. I don't know if it would've been that high on the list (unlike the Windhand album from last year, which is coincidentally also a sludgy, melodic, 90s alternative inspired take on 21st century stoner metal), but it certainly would've made it.

02.12.2020
Deerhoof
Balter / Saunier

By my estimation, it was about 8 years ago that I abandoned Deerhoof. Breakup Song had just come out, and it was their 2nd or 3rd album in a row that didn't excite me as much as their previous work, and I just felt like the band had explored everything they were going to explore, and it would be diminishing returns from there. No fault to them, they'd put out at least 10 years worth of incredible music, but I just felt like I'd had my fill. So I just kinda stopped paying attention.

Earlier this month, I heard a guitar chord, and an electric circuit reconnected in my brain. I don't know what song it was, what year it was from, but it was a Deerhoof guitar chord. And a Deerhof guitar chord doesn't sound like any other guitar chord. It got into my brain, and for the next couple days I kept humming Deerhoof tunes like a psychopath. Then I cued up Reveille. Then Milk Man. Then Offend Maggie. All of it. For about three days straight I mainlined Deerhoof. I even went back to the later stuff that made me abandon ship, Deerhoof Vs. Evil and Breakup Song. Mainlined it. Loved every bit of it. Best part of all has been discovering music they made in the 8 years I've been away, albums I heard about in passing, but just assumed would be more of the same. They're all fucking great.

Most interesting of all is this collaboration with Ensemble Dal Niente, Balter / Saunier. It sounds like a novel idea, Deerhoof teaming up with a contemporary composer and 22 piece chamber jazz ensemble, one that could come off as "Deerhoof with strings." But the result on record is captivating—it's a genuinely collaborative effort, which lands somewhere in between contemporary classical, jazz, and yes, Deerhoof. It fully works. It's quiet, patient, sublime, with occasional shots of weirdo maximalism.

I used to like Deerhoof. I've always thought they were great. But on this second round of listening, I've turned a corner; I love Deerhoof, and not only are they great, I'm now deeply convinced they're they're one of the greatest American bands of not just my generation, but of the entire rock era. But beyond that one level still, I'm realizing they're not even a rock band. The music they've played for 30 years now owes just as much to ideas of jazz and improvisation and contemporary composition and the avant-garde as it does to, like, Led Zeppelin or Nirvana. They do it all, and they've been doing it all for a long time now. They're some of the best we've got.

02.11.2020
Blinker the Star
Careful With Your Magic

Somehow Blinker The Star keeps releasing new music, every couple years, and somehow it always takes me nearly a year to hear about it. I guess I shouldn't be surprised; they (he) never exactly garnered a lot of attention from the music press back in the 90s, much less now 20-whatever (ugh) years later. But whatever Jordan Zadorozny does as a day job (I can't imagine being Blinker the Star pays the bills), I'm glad that he still has the passion to keep pushing out new tunes. Because, honestly, they're pretty good! He knows his way around a song, and even though nothing he's been releasing is ever really going to blow up in the 2020 indie young person scene, it's still totally, totally solid music that I find myself listening to way more than I expect to. Good job, Blinker the Star.

01.01.2020
Steve's Favorite Music of 2019
A List

Favorite Albums:
1. Jessica Pratt - Quiet Signs
2. Moon Tooth - CRUX
3. Young Guv - GUV I
4. Oozing Wound - High Anxiety
5. Weyes Blood - Titanic Rising
6. Big Thief - UFOF/Two Hands
7. Blood Incantation - Hidden History of the Human Race
8. SUNN O))) - Life Metal
9. Girlpool - What Chaos is Imaginary
10. Mount Eerie w/ Julie Doiron - Lost Wisdom pt. 2
11. FKA Twigs - Magdeline
12. Panda Bear - Buoys
13. Bruce Springsteen - Western Stars
14. Wilco - Ode to Joy
15. Billy Woods - Hiding Places
16. Elder - Gold & Silver Sessions
17. Black Midi - Schlagenheim
18. Mdou Moctar - Ilana: The Creator
19. Mylingar - Doda Sjalar
20. Earl Sweatshirt - Feet of Clay

Favorite Songs:
1. Big Thief - “Not”
2. Jay Som - “Superbike”

Everything after that is a tie.

Old Albums That I Discovered or Rediscovered:
1. Miracle Legion - Surprise, Surprise, Surprise
2. R.E.M. - Monster*
3. Soul Coughing - Irresistible Bliss
4. George McCrea - Rock Your Baby
5. Wuhling - Extra 6

* (Obviously I didn't "discover" Monster this year, but it morphed itself from a jokey afterthought in my conscious to one of my absolute favorite things to listen to all year.

12.31.2019
Steve's Favorite Music of the 2010s
A List

Favorite Albums:
1. Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me
2. Brad Mehldau - Highway Rider
3. Superchunk - Majesty Shredding
4. Shearwater - Animal Joy
5. Courtney Barnett - A Sea of Split Peas 
6. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
7. Mount Moriah - Miracle Temple
8. Trust Fund - Seems Unfair
9. Screaming Females - Rose Mountain
10. Natalie Prass - Natalie Prass
11. The Decemberists - The King Is Dead
12. Walter Martin - Arts + Leisure
13. Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel...
14. Moon Tooth - Chromaparagon
15. Eleanor Friedberger - Last Summer
16. Future Islands -In Evening Air
17. Girlpool - Powerplant
18. A.C. Newman - Shut Down The Streets
19. Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau - Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau
20. Courageous Endeavors - Prototype
21. Jessica Pratt - Quiet Signs
22. Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again
23. Young Guv - GUV I
24. Nude Beach - 77
25. Adult Jazz - Gist Is
26. The Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
27. Blake Mills - Heigh Ho
28. Okkervil River - Away
29. Sampha - Process
30. Mastodon - Cold Dark Place EP
31. Moon Tooth - CRUX
32. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN
33. The Darkness - Hot Cakes
34. D’Angelo - Black Messiah
35. Ought - More Than Any Other Day
36. Oozing Wound - High Anxiety
37. These New Puritans – Field of Reeds
38. Hailu Mergia - Lala Belu
39. Rhye – Woman
40. The Go! Team - The Scene Between
41. CFCF - Zellers Presents Slow R&B for Locations Canada-Wide
42. Father John Misty - Pure Comedy
43. Owen Pallett - Heartland
44. Blood Incantation - Hidden History of the Human Race
45. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy
46. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
47. Big Thief - UFOF / Two Hands
48. Cornelius - Mellow Waves
49. Okkervil River - Away
50. Riley Walker - The Lilywhite Sessions

Albums that are unimpeachably beautiful and profound pieces of work, but are just so dense and demanding to sit through that i have a hard time calling them my "favorites," thus not knowing where to put them on the first list, but feeling like a fraud by leaving them off altogether:
1. Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked At Me
2. Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid MAAD City
3. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly
4. Sun Kill Moon - Benji
5. Billy Woods - Hiding Places
6. SUNN O)) - Life Metal
7. Low - Double Negative

Favorite Songs:
1. Japanese Breakfast - “Everybody Wants To Love You”
2. Frank Ocean - “Pyramids”
3. Sheer Mag - “Fan the Flames”
4. Big Thief - “Not”
5. Father John Misty - “Pure Comedy”
6. Courtney Barnett - “Avant Gardener” 
7. The Both - “Milwaukee”
8. Eleanor Friedberger - “Stare at the Sun”
9. Flying Lotus w/ Kendrick Lamar - "Never Catch Me"
10. Sydney Gish - “Sophisticated Space”
11. Fiona Apple - “Hot Knife”
12. Beach House - “Zebra”
13. Cornelius - “If You’re Here”
14. Elder - “The Falling Veil”
15. Steve Lacy - “Dark Red”
16. Bruce Springsteen - “Hello Sunshine”
17. Arcade Fire - “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”
18. Natalie Prass - “Bird of Prey”
19. Jay Som - “Superbike”
20. Eleanor Friedberger - “Owl’s Head Park”
21. Ought - “Habit”
22. Erykah Badu - “Window Seat”
23. Gillian Welch - “Dark Turn of Mind”
24. David Byrne & Florence - "Here Lies Love"
25. Big Boi - "Shine Blockas"
26. Arcade Fire - "Reflektor"
27. Courtney Barnett - “History Eraser”
28. Laura Stevenson - “Torch Song”
29. Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment - "Sunday Candy"
30. Case/Lang/Veirs - “Atomic Number”
31. Superchunk - “This Summer”
32. Hammers of Misfortune - “The Grain”
33. Walter Martin - “Down By the Singing Sea”
34. Kanye West - “Runaway”
35. Real Estate - “Green Aisles”
36. Rhye - “Last Dance”
37. Kendrick - “DUCKWORTH”
38. David Bowie - “Where Are We Now?”
39. Gang Gang Dance - “Glass Jar”
40. Morgan Delt - “Barbarian Kings”
41. FKA Twigs - “Cellophane”
42. Girlpool - “1 2 3”
43. The Darkness - “She’s Just A Girl, Eddie”
44. Chastity - “Heaven Hell Anywhere Else”
45. Hailu Mergia - “Lala Belu”
46. American Pleasure Club - “this is heaven and id die for it”
47. Sampha - “Blood on Me”
48. Okkervil River - “Okkervil River R.I.P.”
49. Ian William Craig - “Contain (Cedar version)”
50. Danny Brown - “Dirty Laundry”

12.13.2019
Mylingar
Doda Sjalar

I was truly taken aback when I first heard Mylingar. So many metal bands, particularly of the death and black variety, try to sound like they're summoning demons with their music. They use distortion and dissonance and speed and guttural growls, often within long accepted structural forms of rock music—riffs and progressions and verses and choruses and solos.

Mylingar is the first metal band I've ever heard who not only sound like they're attempting to summon demons, but sounds like they're succeeding. This shit is so intense, so dark, so ghastly inhuman, there's no other explanation. I think there are guitars here—there might be riffs, there might be some drums down there, there's certainly a humanoid creature vocalizing—but holy shit this is barely even music. It's terrifiying. And thrilling.

This is probably lame, but I need to just paste their bio's description of the music here. Because it's fucking absurd—and every word of it is correct:

A tempest of whirlwind blackened death metal barbarity and animalistic filth, unrelenting in its intent to rend flesh from bone and inflict torment.

There is no peace here. The guitars and riffs burn through everything like scorched earth with the scraping, gritty bass barreling forward into total massacre. All the while the insanity presided over by a voice neither animal nor human but both at once, diseased, psychotic and commanding. The pace in general remains maddeningly frantic but relents as needed to revel in the violence of its creation.

Less an album of songs to passively enjoy, 'Döda Själar' is an all-encompassing specter of claustrophobic oppression and pestilence, draping its blackness over everything and leaving little but barren wasteland behind. An unexplainable, unknowable force for the malevolent villainy that envelops our world."

And lastly, an equally correct review by another listener: "If insanity itself caught leprosy and took a bunch of PCP in a pitch-black cave, this is what it would sound like."

This album is like nothing I've ever heard and I love it.

12.13.2019
Mount Eerie
Lost Wisdom Pt. 2

Phil Elverum can sing now.

12.13.2019
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
I Have Made A Place

It's impossible to believe, but this is Will Oldham's first Bonnie Prince Billy album in 10 years. He's released other stuff—covers collections and collaborations and re-recordings and live records and other experiments—but as far as a full length collection of original material, this is the first in a decade. It's a very nice listen. I wish it was more than that.

11.25.2019
Blood Incantation
Hidden History of the Human Race

Metal. Death. Chaos. The cosmos. Annihilation. Infinity. Horror. Aliens. Nothingness. Ferocity. Psychosis. Incantation. Mesmerization. Reverb. Galaxies. Supernovae. Explosions. Megacosms. Microcosms. Vociferation. Blast beats. Pinch harmonics. So many pinch harmonics.

11.13.2019
FKA Twigs
Magdaline

This is the best Kate Bush album of the century.

12.31.2018 - by Steve
Steve's Favorite Food of 2018Brooklyn
A List

Holy cow this is a jet-setting, internacional version of a year end food list! Minneapolis! St. Paul! And other cities! Anyway here's the list:

1. Hai Hai (Minneapolis) - Balinese chicken
2. Berber and Q (London) - Lamb shawarma
3. Nandos (Manchester) - Piri Piri Chicken
4. Paesano’s (Philadelphia) - Roast pork sandwich
5. Thai Cafe (St. Paul) - Sour pork ribs
6. Porchetteria (Minneapolis) - Porchetta
7. Werkstatt (Brooklyn) - Wienerschnitzel
8. The Naughty Greek (St. Paul) - Lamb
9. MT Noodles (Brooklyn Park) - Banh mi
10. Camping (North shore) - Grilled bbq chicken
11. Crepe and Spoon (Minneapolis) - Peanut butter and jelly vegan ice cream
12. Mission Chinese (Manhattan) - Kung pao pastrami
13. Sorriso’s (Queens) - Meatball sandwich
14. Tavial (St. Paul) - Al pastor tacos
15. Kingfisher (Manchester) - Fish and chips