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.

11.13.2019
Brad Mehldau
Finding Gabriel

When I heard a few weeks ago that Brad Mehldau released a new album of original choral/synth/piano material earlier this year, I was pissed that I missed it. Then I heard it and I'm no longer pissed.

10.29.2019
Big Thief
Two Hands

Big Thief took over the world this year, and I'm totally fine with that. There's probably a good chance someone has tried to sell them on you, or that you're already fully sold (more likely), so instead of going down the bullet points of why Big Thief rules, just do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIcVwH47uxQ

10.29.2019
Young Guv
Guv II

Surprise, it's a new Young Guv album! Guv I came out of nowhere onto my radar, and I love it, dreamy jangly power pop at its finest, "There She Goes"-as-genre. Top 5 of the year for sure. So now Guv II comes out of nowhere, and it's also good but not as good but still good but not gonna be Top 5.

10.11.2019
Wilco
Ode to Joy

If Wilco The Album and The Whole Love and Star Wars and Schmilco never happened, and Ode to Joy was the follow up to Sky Blue Sky, I'd probably be confused and disappointed by it. But it would at least make sense. But those other albums did of course happen, and they've all left me in varying states of frustration and ambivalence, be it from Album and Love's lack of new ideas and general dispassion, or Star Wars and Schmilco's stubborn dryness. But Ode to Joy finally feels right. None of its individual songs—"Love Is Everywhere (Beware)" perhaps excluded—are nearly to the level of their catalog leading up to this 'frustration and ambivalence' era, but the album as a whole is refreshingly engaging. It contains little mysteries which I don't even know are there until they've hooked me, and it keeps inviting me back, and I'm happy to oblige. But most refreshing of all is that like every great Wilco album (which, again, is basically all of them up until those other ones), this feels like its own world. It has its own palette and speaks its own language. Yeah it kinda borrows some sounds from Star Wars and Schmilco, but it actually does something with them. Even the album cover works.

10.10.2019
Opeth
In Cauda Venunum

Jag vet inte vad "In cauda venenum" betyder på svenska, men jag antar att det är något som "minskar avkastningen."

10.05.2019
Sandro Perri
Soft Landing

Sandro Perri plays 20 minute soft rock mantras which land somewhere between Brian Eno and Pat Metheny, and I promise that's a good thing.

04.05.2019 - by Steve
Thai Farm KitchenBrooklyn
Kao thod nhaem klook, pad thai

The week we moved in to this apartment in the lovely Kensington neighborhood of Brooklyn, we ordered in some Thai food. As one does. I'd been warned in advance that the Thai food "scene" in New York isn't as good as you might expect, and that most places in town (with the exception of one particular restaurant in Queens, but we'll save that for another time) serve basically the same decent generic American Thai food you can get anywhere between here and Des Moines. So with expectations low, I was caught off guard by how good, and how unique the food from this Thai Farm Kitchen was. Nothing particular drew us to this place over the 3 or 4 other nearby options; it was just a new-ish, cute-ish little joint in the middle of our weird, not-quite-yet-gentrified Russian and Bangladeshi neighborhood. But the menu had some interesting options on it, and the food we got was all fantastic. We lucked out.

Fast forward, like, two months. I'm doing laundry across the street on a weekday night, and I notice there's a line out the door (mid-winter, mind you) at Thai Farm Kitchen. The next week it's the same. Then we try to go there to eat on a Saturday night—two hour wait. We try again a couple weeks later—hour and a half wait. The place is constantly packed. The secret is out, not so lucky anymore.

Turns out, as we guessed after the first couple attempts, that in fact the New York Times wrote a very positive review of the place, and that seems to be simultaneously a holy anointment and a kiss of death in this city. Great for them, because I'm sure they're suddenly making double the money the ever imagined making in their first year. But damn, we found our little place, and now we're stuck out in the cold!

Anyway, we finally got in the other night, and it was no fluke. The food is up there with the best Thai I've had anywhere, the menu is just left of standard (they serve their pad thai with fried calamari, which doesn't sound exciting, but it adds a lot!), and the staff is downright charming. By this time next year, we ought to be able to get a table there on a weekend again.