Fort Wayne Spins: My Favorite Local Albums of 2014

 

spinsby E. A. Poorman

It’s that time of year again. The end of the of year, that is. That time of year when we reflect on everything that went down during the last 12 months. The good, the bad, the meh. I personally like to sit back with a scotch, a cheap cigar, and my favorite slippers, sit out on the freezing front porch and reflect on the year in my favorite smoking jacket. The fact that it’s 51 degrees and I’m wearing shorts and a beat up hoodie sweatshirt doesn’t deter me one bit.

2014 brought some really great local music to our ears. I am always impressed with what the local guys and gals have to offer each year, and 2014 was no different. Here’s a few of the truly great ones, in no particular order.

Bonfire John : College

 

bonfire johnBonfire John is this guy named Owen Yonce. There are others in the band, but when the songs are made it’s basically just Yonce drinking some beers, playing some instruments, and singing some songs. The songs on College are breezy, stoned, and precise. They sound like some otherworldly collision of John Prine, Pavement, and The Old 97s. Yonce’s voice sounds aged beyond his barely 21 years. Like it was left outside in the rain, sun-dried, and whipped coarse by the Midwestern wind. There’s plucky acoustic jags and jangly indie buzzing, and some help by a few of Yonce’s friends.

This is Bonfire John’s second album, after 2011s Bonfire John and the Majestic Springs Band. College makes good on the promise that record made, and then some. Carmel, Indiana’s finest has made one of this area’s finest records of 2014.

Heaven’s Gateway Drugs : Apropos

HGDApropos is both an end and a beginning for Heaven’s Gateway Drugs. The album was written and created by the original members and completed last December. The record sat for months and saw three of the original members move on to other things, leaving Dererk Mauger and Ben Carr to rebuild and reboot. Now, revitalized and reborn Heaven’s Gateway Drugs are stronger and freakier than ever.

But what about Apropos? Well, it’s a soaring, freaky, and rocking ode to HGD 1.0. It builds on their debut, and even revisits some of the grimier, grittier moments of their cassette release back in 2012. “Gone To Ground” sounds like a death march through the hazy desert, while “Apropos” is pure pop bliss in classic Kinks fashion. This record is nine tracks of psychedelic jams and pop confections, served up in a cocktail of fruit and acid.

Streetlamps for Spotlights : Sound and Color

Alt_Web_IconSound and Color is a sonic slap in the face. It’s a post-punk snarl and a jangle rock shriek from the dark. Jason Davis, Jay Hackbush, and Ryan Holquist make music that lurches forward and just as quickly stops inches from bulldozing you to the ground. “Ready Already” comes charging out of the speakers like a drunk bull, all red-eyed and fuming. Then just as you think you’re about to get the snot kicked out of you “Right Back” takes over with a gritty pop feel and a daydreamer’s wide eyes. It’s this push and pull that makes this record such a fun and inviting listen.

Davis and company have made a rich and dense rock and roll record.

The Dead Records : The Dead Records

tdrIn case you missed it, The Dead Records put out a new album this year. It’s pretty damn great. It’s straight up kick ass rock and roll. It’s fists in the air, screaming at the top of your lungs, lose yourself in a crowd of sweaty strangers kind of music. It’s also a beautiful memorial to their friend and guitarist Chad Briner who left this earth way too early.

“Hooks” is beautiful and intense, while “Don’t Wait Up” is drowning your sorrows in a piss-warm beer. TDR write anthems for the lonely and soundtrack personal awakenings. This album both reminisces about and mourns that thing we call youth. The Dead Records is a hell of an album.

Grey Gordon : Forget I Brought It Up

forget I brought it upGrey Gordon’s Forget I Brought It Up is a pop record disguised as a salute to Bob Mould’s many musical disguises. There’s the harsher Husker Du moments in “Barstools and Haircuts”, the Sugar pop melancholy of “Learned Helplessness”, and the self-reflection of “Apologies”. But really, it just sounds like Grey Gordon being Grey Gordon. It’s a grudge match between guitar fuzz and Gordon’s anti-hero storytelling. Dig in.

Fucking Panthers : Two Ways of Life

f'ing panthersHere’s a band that really doesn’t care what you think of them. I mean, with a name like Fucking Panthers that pretty much sets the tone, right? So when you listen to their sophomore album Two Ways of Life you’re beaten and bruised with a mix of hardcore and metal. Something like Suicidal Tendencies morphed with South of Heaven-era Slayer. “Rise” sounds like Henry Rollins fronting Tad; or Helmet. There’s more than enough angst and guitar riffage for everyone. Just crank up “Frozen In Carbonite” and let your ears bleed in ecstasy.

Thematic : The Endless Light

endless lightIf you like your metal on the conceptual side, look no further than Thematic. The progressive metal band that hails from the Fort and Chicago dropped their debut record The Endless Light this year and it’s a progressive metal lover’s dream. A mix of serious metal riffs and syncopated Dream Theater-like time signatures, The Endless Light is a serious shred fest that harkens back to classic concept records from King Crimson, Rush, and Dream Theater.

The Snarks : Night At Crystal Beach

snarksYou want some old school punk attitude to go with that rock and roll? Look no further than The Snarks. Kendra Johnson leads the Snarks on a search and destroy mission throughout their just-released Night At Crystal Beach. It’s four songs of punk bravado and sweaty rock bliss. It’s great to hear Johnson back spitting attitude into a mic, like she did with her old band TIMBER!!! This time the post-punk angularity is set off to the side for more garage and punk muscle. “Suntanning Bitches” seems like it could be the summer hit you didn’t know you were looking for, while “Human Sacrifice” sounds like The Germs on overdrive.

The Lurking Corpses : Workin For The Devil

the-lurking-corpses-working-for-the-devil-album-coverIf you like your metal as campy as you like it heavy, look no further than Workin For The Devil. The Lurking Corpses have outdone themselves on there newest record, filling every nook and cranny with sound clips and Hammer Films darkness. Heavy metal riffs and speed metal drumming mix with the occult and Misfits-like B-movie flair. If you like Iron Maiden, early Metallica, Danzig, and anything that would’ve been aired on Nightmare Theater then look no further than The Lurking Corpses’ Workin For The Devil.

Pink Balloon Band : Eating Crow

PBBWarsaw, Indiana’s Pink Balloon Band put out the short-but-sweet EP Eating Crow. It’s only two songs, but suggests a newer, bigger sound for Ian Skeans’ musical project. Over the years he’s put out several releases of mostly acoustic-only recordings. Very intimate versions of his songs. This worked to his advantage as it allowed him to take his tunes anywhere and play for a sweaty crowd in a basement or garage, or the darkly lit confines of coffeehouses from here to Fort Wayne with nothing more than his acoustic guitar and amazing head of hair. But PBB can also get pretty loud and raucous when it wants to. Mainly when Skeans brings along John White and Ian Ruisard to the gigs. Now we have recorded proof of this rocking three-piece with Eating Crow. “Zap Rowsdower” sounds like Helmet ate Weezer and coughed up this amazing song, while “Mobin’s Child” is more melancholy and angry where it counts. Let’s hope this means a full length is somewhere on 2015s horizon for PBB.

 

It’s been another great year for Fort Wayne music, and the above list proves it. Get out there and pick up some local albums from some local music guys and gals. They make great stocking stuffers And if you can, get out and see these bands do their thing on a local stage.

Happy Holidays, folks. See you next year.

“It’s More Fun To Compute”: Kraftwerk’s Computer Odyssey

Kraftwerk-Computer_WorldIn honor of Kraftwerk’s snubbing by those Rock and Roll Hall of Lamers, I thought I’d say a few words about my favorite album by some of my favorite Krautrockers, Computer World.

I love it. It’s great.

Okay, I’ll say a few more words. The first record I ever bought of Kraftwerk’s was Trans Europe Express. It was really weird to me at the time. Some of it I liked, but the singing bits were just a little too out there for me. “The Hall of Mirrors” was just kind of bizarre, and my kids would just laugh whenever I’d play it in the house so I’d just skip over to the more instrumental bits. Still, I loved the music. This was back in 2007. Before that, my experience with Kraftwerk was more from a distance. I remember seeing them when I was a little kid and just thinking they were completely strange. I preferred Max Headroom to these mannequin-esque looking Germans.

Two years ago I was in Fort Wayne browsing the vinyl at Neat Neat Neat Records and happened across a great copy of Autobahn. I snagged it and proceeded to play it continuously for the remainder of the summer. It was lighter than Trans Europe Express; the band still had long hair and look relatively hippie-ish. But opening track “Autobahn” was 22 minutes of Krautrock bliss. The whole album was and is damn great.

Computer World came out in 1981, and it’s an album of its time. By then Kraftwerk had transformed from German hippies playing with synths to plastic-looking humanoid androids in suits, standing behind IBM computers on stage. The music was cold, chromed-out, and emotionless. Man-Machine had come out three years prior and sounded as if they’d began streamlining their sound. You knew what to expect. With Computer World Kraftwerk finally honed in on those great things they’d been doing for years and melded them perfectly with “the times”, as it were. “Computer Love” is about as pop as pop music got back in 1981. Hell it’s still a great pop song. Those Coldplay pretty boys even sampled the song on their 2005 album X&Y. The track “Talk” benefits greatly from Kraftwerk’s melody.

But besides the great pop tendencies on this album, Computer World feels like a cohesive story from start to finish. It feels like one long song with each track as a section of that song. From the opening of “Computer World” to the final track “It’s More Fun To Compute”, you get this feeling of constant motion. “Pocket Calculator” is more fun; it’s lighter fare compared to the more darkly lit “Home Computer”. This is like a concept record they wrote after seeing into the future. They saw where we were going with technology and put it to their quirky, electronic melodies.

If you don’t believe me about this great album, read this. This guy knows his stuff.

 

I’m the operator with my pocket calculator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2015 Inductees : A Short Rant

huhYou know, there are so many other things to be upset about rather than the new inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Taliban slaughtering nearly 140 students in Pakistan; the militarization of our local police forces in the US and subsequent pointless murders committed by these thugs in blue; the ever present arguments against common sense and fact when discussing religion compared to scientific data; Battle of the Network Stars reruns.

There’s plenty to be upset about in the world, yet I choose to be cheesed off by a few decisions regarding 2015s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions. That’s just me. And looking at the list a good majority of them I feel are very deserved of the honor. Bill Withers, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble are all incredibly worthy of their placement in those hallowed halls that sit next to Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio. Lou Reed? Well this feels more like a gimme since he died last year, but I won’t deny what he’s done for rock and roll. I think more so with the Velvet Underground than on his own, but I could be completely wrong about that(I’ll never admit it.)

There are two inductees in-particular I’m a little perplexed about; Green Day and Ringo Starr. There were two nomimated artists that didn’t get inducted that I’m equally perplexed about; NIN and Kraftwerk. I guess my question on both accounts is, well, why?

Ringo Starr has already been inducted with the Beatles, and rightfully so. No question he should be in there with the Fab Four. But as a solo artist he completely should not be. Besides a few radio hits in the 70s and lots of guest spots with other artists I don’t get what constitutes him being inducted? Tell me, please. He didn’t redefine or innovate the art on his own. I like Ringo, don’t get me wrong. I think he’s a fantastic drummer and from what I can tell a pretty great guy. Seems down to earth and friendly. Here’s the thing though, if he was inducted over Kraftwerk I think that was a huge mistake. Kraftwerk essentially created electronic music. Sure, others were messing with electronics in the medium of music for years before Kraftwerk came onto the scene, but they made it into a listenable genre. Not only that but they created a visual counterpart to the music. They were true innovators. They should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with their creepy faces and IBM computers, not Ringo and his, well, drums.

Green Day. Hmm. I know a lot of people that love this band. LOVE them. I’m friends with a good portion of these folks. I’ve never disliked Green Day. I think there were usually three or four songs per album that I quite liked. Hell, they made it possible to listen to the radio and not have to turn the station back in the 90s. And there was something about Billie Jo Armstrong’s guitar sound that always appealed to me. It was this crunch that I could never quite achieve, and it was exquisite in its overdriven punk bliss.

But do I see them as being inductee material? No, not really. I always just found them to be a little too shallow for such an honor. I know they did the American Idiot thing and the 21st Century Breakdown thing, and both of those showed there was a hell of a lot more to these guys than just that pop/punk moniker. But those are just two albums. These guys are my age for Christ’s sake. I think a few more years of writing and recording are in order before they get this kind of honor. And for them to get in and not NIN? Seriously? Once again, an artist that has redefined and innovated is snubbed over an artist that, while was and still is wildly successful, hasn’t done much to push the genre forward. Up until American Idiot Green Day seemed to be doing the same thing for ten years, at least to my ears. By the time Reznor put out The Downward Spiral, his second album as NIN, he’d completely rewritten the book on electronic and industrial music. His second album was a masterpiece of anger and self-hate, and a game changer in sonic manipulation and production. Green Day’s second album was called Dookie.

I don’t know. Who’s to say who is worthy of induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? What does it really matter? Anymore this seems as pointless and vapid as the Grammys. We love the artists we love and that’s that. We don’t need a committee to tell us they’re worthy of some shitty award, or a plaque on a wall in some weird, pyramid-shaped building sitting next to Lake Erie. We know they’re great and that they deserve all the accolades in the world. We know who the true innovators and genre definers really are. We’re right and they’re wrong.

I mean I’m right and you’re wrong. Goddamn right.

Herbie Hancock and the Warner Years

hancockI’ve been listening to Herbie Hancock for nearly ten years now. I started out with his seminal funk/fusion masterpiece Headhunters. I’d just gotten out of an 8 hour Hazmat training session in South Bend and my mind was fried. I stopped at a Borders book store before heading home to grab a coffee and just decompress from learning way too much about flammable chemicals and proper DOT rules and regulations on transporting corrosives. I can’t remember what brought me to the jazz section of the CDs, or why I was even looking for Herbie Hancock, but I found Headhunters and was on my way. The ride home was a spaced-out and funky one. I was instantly smitten with the heavy grooves and Hancock’s use of synthesizers.

From there I ordered Thrust, the follow-up to Headhunters and found I loved that album almost as much. So much funk, so little time. I made a U-turn back into Hancock’s earlier years and bought Maiden Voyage, Takin’ Off, and Empyrean Isles. I found I loved that era as well. Definitely not as funky, but some serious hard bop, with elements of classical music as well. Hancock was a classically-trained pianist from Chicago first and foremost, and that showed in his intricately arranged music. A song like “The Egg” off of Empyrean Isles was this mix of classical, avante garde, and hard bop that even Sun Ra had to go “Hmm” to. This song showed some really experimental leanings with Hancock. It showed he wasn’t just about the bop.

Well, there’s a segment in Herbie Hancock’s career that seems to have been this forgotten trove of experimentalism and spaced-out funk. For a short time, Hancock was signed to Warner Bros music, and this should have been a break-through period for his career. What came about was only three albums. Three albums that both proceeded and preceded huge moments and highly praised and regarded periods in Herbie Hancock’s musical history. His Warner Bros years seem but a mere blip in his career. It’s a shame, really. The three albums he made for Warner are three of the best records he ever made.

Fat Albert Rotunda was the first album Herbie did for Warner Bros, and it was a shift from the straight up jazz to something more fun and funky. He made the album as a soundtrack for a TV special called Hey, Hey, Hey It’s Fat Albert for Bill Cosby which later inspired Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. Hancock makes good use of the electric piano on this album, and rhythms are pretty much straight up funk. Lots of brass splashed throughout, but done so more Sly and the Family Stone and not hard bop heroes. There’s also plenty of funky electric guitar throughout. It’s a seriously fun collection of tracks and a real standalone record.

 

Up next was Mwandishi, and all bets were off on this record. Herbie Hancock’s work with Miles Davis -especially on In A Silent Way- played a huge role in shaping this album. “Ostinato” opens with echoing electric piano before percussion and bass roll in and get a groove going. By this time Hancock was starting to get into analog synthesizers and it shows in the freaky noises emanating from the speakers. This is the beginning of some seriously dense and heady music for Herbie Hancock. Eddie Henderson fills the shoes of Miles quite nicely, playing some incredible trumpet blasts. “You’ll Know When You Get There” is quiet, sleek, and mysterious with elements Hancock and visited earlier on Davis’ Nefertiti. With the echo effect on Henderson’s trumpet you most definitely get the feel of a Miles Davis joint here. The epic “Wandering Spirit Song” is over 21 minutes of both avante haze and post bop experimentalism. You could feel Herbie Hancock was trying to push himself and the genre.

 

The last album Herbie Hancock did for Warner Bros was Crossings, and it solidified the ideas and journeys that Hancock began to explore on Mwandishi. “Sleeping Giant” opens with lots of percussion. The sound of said sleeping giant waking up perhaps? Soon enough though you can hear the rumbling of the band coming in and so begins this hallucinatory trek through what sounds like jazz fusion and Bitches Brew-like drug-addled hard funk. To me, this song personifies everything I love about fusion and that melding of purist jazz and that moment where electronic instrumentation made its way into the jazz fold. It’s swaying, groovy, and rhythmic. It’s equal parts street-level hard and “outer space” out there. “Sleeping Giant” takes up one whole side of the LP at over 24 minutes. It feels like Hancock created a true piece with movements. The song ebbs and flows, moments of whispering silence with the occasional swish of electronics interspersed with freak out trumpet blares and full-on street strut funk. It’s a masterful piece work. “Quasar” is intimate by comparison; simple even. At just over 7 minutes it opens with acoustic piano only to be taken over by the star federation. Creepy electronics bleep and blip around the song before Buster Williams’ bass comes in and gives us a temporary reprieve from the weirdness. Patrick Gleeson’s moog synthesizer takes center stage on this out there track. This is what Eric Dolphy would’ve sounded like had he ever gotten his hands on a moog. Interstellar grooves, baby. “Water Torture” continues the freak out with the stereo panning giving the feeling of floating in space; constellations surrounding you in a sea of heroin bliss. Definitely a hat is off to side three of Bitches Brew here. Williams’ bass and Hancock’s electric piano are the constant here, with blasts of horn, moog, and synth envelope you. In my opinion, this is some of the best fusion, rock, and free jazz created at the time. Hancock opened his heart and mind and followed the muse, regardless of how far out she took him.

 

Unfortunately, the rest of the world didn’t have the enthusiasm for Hancock’s far out excursions as I do. All three records he released for Warner did rather poorly sales-wise, and jazz purists poo poo’d at his electronic experimentation. It worried Hancock so much that he wondered if he’d be able to continue as a viable musician. Or at the very least, be able to support himself financially. So he changed musical direction and record labels. He left Warner and joined Columbia Records. He released the excellent Sextant, which to my ears was a continuation on Crossings sound and space excursions, albeit with a little more funk(and a lot more reverb.) Then he formed the Headhunters band, released the album Headhunters, and the rest is extremely funky history.

In August of this year Rhino released Herbie Hancock: The Warner Years(1969-1972). There was a similar collection put out back in 1994, but this new collection adds lots of extras from the time. I would highly recommend seeking this three-disc set out if anything I’ve written here made you prick up your ears. I’m collecting them on vinyl of course. I love hearing the crackle and sizzle from the turn table. And this music just sounds amazing on vinyl anyways.

Give Hancock’s Warner years a shot. If Bitches Brew is something you love, then you are missing out here.

Language of Shapes :: Mother Mountain

mother mountainLanguage of Shapes inhabit a musical world all their own. Not that they don’t allow certain musical influences to seep into that world and show themselves now and then, but for the most part LoS score their wonderful little universe all their own. Their self-titled debut from 2012 showed a band brimming and bursting with musical ideas and chops. They create this musical landscape with mandolin(and mandolin-like stringed instruments), bass, and djembe. The narration to their stories is done with Tristram Burden’s rich vocals, accompanied by J.E. Seuk’s ethereal harmonizing. All of these elements together create the Language of Shapes’ universe. It’s at times dark, foreboding, and melancholy. It’s also hopeful and filled with light. Stories around the campfire after a great sadness. Post-apocalyptic folk tunes that are psychedelic in that they remove you from where you are at the moment you listen. They take you to another world without the need of any hallucinogenics.

LoS disappeared into their fortress of solitude for a few months and created the follow-up to their ambitious debut. Mother Mountain doesn’t stray too far from the formula they had written in 2012. More than anything, they have honed in on those musical truths and aural secrets contained on their debut and, to my ears, have perfected them. Mother Mountain is a new journey into the world of Language of Shapes, and it’s an epic journey.

“Phosphor Burn” opens the album cautiously and lamenting dark times before the percussion rolls in and the song gets moving. Flute accompanies the mandolin giving the track a movement, like running down a muddy trail through a grey forest. Burden’s vocals linger in the air thanks to some amazing reverb. He seems to center the song as it moves and kicks and breathes all around him. “Stitches” is post-punk neo-futuristic folk pop. Say that five times fast. This is what I imagine playing through space as the last survivors attempt to make their way to a new world. A new universe. It’s a jagged, bruised, survival theme. It’s great stuff.

There are a couple of epic tracks on Mother Mountain as well. “The Sleeping Eye” is eight minutes of a mad, kinetic dance around the burning embers some distant, somber light. It feels like a search(both physical and metaphysical) for meaning in what may seem to be meaningless. Languages of Shapes do this well. Epic feel and meaning in every pluck of the strings, every percussive hit, and every lyrical line that leaves the lips. And at almost nine minutes, album closer “The Fist and the Butterfly” sounds both modern and ancient. It’s as light as a pop song and as heavy as the Dead Sea Scrolls. There’s a great movement to this track that keeps you enthralled throughout it’s epic length. And in-between these great songs, are more great songs. “Thunderkryst” is sweet and melodious, carrying Burden’s heavy lyrics and vocals with ease. “Into The Veil” and “Liquid Dream” sound like songs Echo and the Bunnymen could’ve pulled off beautifully back in 1984. Rich and melancholy while not bringing you down. That’s the mark of real songsmiths.

Language of Shapes’ Mother Mountain is complex, dense, and modern without falling for any sort of modern schticks or trends. It’s a beautiful record rich in story and epic in ideas. It’s earthy, organic, honest, and damn good.

8.5 out of 10

Music For The New Year: Albums To Look Forward To In 2015

11183_JKTI know, I know. This should be my favorite albums of 2014, not albums I’m looking forward to in 2015. As much as I love the favorite lists, and as satisfying as it is once I’m done with making my own and sharing it with the world, I have to admit it’s quite a daunting task for me. Sure, the top five is pretty easy for me. It’s that six through ten that kills me. There are always about five albums every year that get heavy rotation with me. From the get-go I know those are gonna make it in my top five favorites. But then there’s those other albums that get a lot of play, but just not quite enough for me to call them masterpieces. Very good albums, but not quite top five. Those are the ones I struggle with, as I don’t want to make them seem less great than what they are. I just want to….. You see? I’ve been rambling for a healthy paragraph about making my favorites list. I’m not even actually writing it. I’m just talking about writing it. So in lieu of my favorites list(it will be here soon), I wanted to talk about a couple albums I’m super excited about for the new year.

Viet Cong – Viet Cong

So just recently I discovered this Calgary band called Viet Cong. They formed from the ashes of the band Women. I wasn’t that crazy about Women(but I do love women, don’t get me wrong), though their album Public Strain had some moments of genius. After Women called it quits, members Matt Flegel and Michael Wallace formed Viet Cong with Scott Munro and Daniel Christiansen and made the Cassette ep. Called Cassette because it was orginally a cassette-only release that they gave out at shows. The cool folks at Mexican Summer were kind enough to do a vinyl release of this gem and it’s so worth the money. Musically it’s a blast of post-punk(think the raggedness and angular riffs of Wire, mixed with the pop sensibility of The Buzzcocks) mixed with some dark, gothic undertones. Plus, they do a cover of Bauhaus’ “Dark Entries” that’s insanely good. Well Viet Cong are releasing their LP debut with Jagjaguwar. It’s self-titled, and from the first single “Continental Shelf”, I can tell it’s gonna be great. It still retains that post-punk harshness with the underlying darkness. It adds just a little bit of How To Bury Strangers’ guitar squall in the verses, while throwing in some Interpol melancholy during the chorus. These references are merely starting points. Viet Cong are doing their own thing here. This song and band are scary good. The self-titled album comes out 1/20/15 on Jagjaguwar.

Of Montreal – Aureate Gloom

I’m not sure if Kevin Barnes has ever been diagnosed as having ADD, but I think if he was ever tested he’d surely be. The guy goes through musical styles like his life depended on it. Pretty much from 2007s Hissing Fauna Are You The Destroyer to now he’s donned a different musical hat each time out. Always changing it up, yet always retaining that ingredient that makes it very much a Kevin Barnes/Of Montreal joint. It’s usually freaky, sexual, funky, and hallucinogenic. Last year’s Lousy with Sylvianbriar was probably the most straight-forward rock and roll record Barnes has ever put out. It was a mix of classic 60s staples the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and even some Neil Young thrown in. For those that bought it on the promise of more of the same you will be sorely disappointed. For the rest of us, we knew this was coming. Aureate Gloom, from the first single “Bassem Sabry”, sounds like a return to more of the disco-ish leanings of Hissing Fauna and Skeletal Lamping, but slightly darker. I listened to the track and thought “Hmm. Okay.” Then I listened to it again. And again. Then one more time. By the fifth listen I was hooked. It’s deceivingly familiar sounding. You’d think it was a leftover from an earlier album, until you dig a little deeper. There’s more depth here. It sounds honest. It’s quite wonderful. After watching the doc The Past Is A Grotesque Animal I found myself not liking Kevin Barnes as much as I did before I knew what a difficult person he truly was. I even wondered if I’d ever like him as an artist like I did prior to that viewing. This song answers that question: Yes. I do still like him as an artist. I probably always will. He’s still a musical genius that makes incredibly freaky and funky confessional albums. Aureate Gloom comes out 3/3/15 on Polyvinyl.

Moon Duo – Shadows of the Sun

Man do I love Moon Duo. I think I’m starting to love Moon Duo more than Ripley Johnson’s main gig Wooden Shjips. It’s as if he’s saving his krautrock freakiness more for Sanae Yamada and their Moon Duo moniker than his old school space rock buds in the Shjips. And I think I’m okay with that. After the great Live In Ravenna earlier this year I wasn’t expecting anything new from this spaced-out motorik duo, but just a couple weeks ago it was announced that Johnson and Yamada in fact are releasing a new album in March called Shadows of the Sun. If lead single “Animal” is any indication it’s gonna be a snarling, spaced-out record. Shadows of the Sun comes out 3/3/15 on Sacred Bones.

John Carpenter – Lost Themes

I’m a sucker for that analog synth stuff. Some amazing records came out in 2014 that kept my ears buzzing with square waves and modulation. A good portion of those records were heavily influenced by John Carpenter and his creepy and slick synth scores for his excellent films. As with most scores, a lot of stuff that gets written for film never sees the light of day. Master of Horror John Carpenter is no different. In February Sacred Bones is releasing Lost Themes, a collection of pieces Carpenter wrote but never used. We get to soak in some Carpenter goodness as much as we want without the use of a Blu Ray player or VCR. It’s gonna be good. Check it out. Lost Themes comes out 2/3/15.

The Soft Moon – Deeper

Luis Vasquez and his Soft Moon moniker made me a fan with 2012s Zeros, an unrelenting dark and hypnotic record filled with gothic black and pulsating beats that makes one think of some hidden, underground German club where everyone is in black leather, sweating, grinding, and there’s at least three vampires on the dance floor. It felt like a collection of musical vignettes, each accenting long pushed away thoughts. The thoughts coming back to life with Vasquez’ musical incantations. Vasquez disappeared into Europe with his Soft Moon project and has returned after a year of getting lost in his head and music and has given us Deeper. Lead single “Black” is heavy, unrelenting, and in razor focus. It sounds like a young, hungry, and vicious version of Trent Reznor(a collaboration between Vasquez and Reznor would be something to behold.) If this song is any indication, this album is gonna be dense, dark, and incredible.

Deeper come out 3/31/15 on Captured Tracks.

A Place To Bury Strangers, Alex Calder, The Black Ryder, and Panda Bear all have albums coming out in the next three months as well, so it’s gonna be a front-heavy year for new music. You have nothing to complain about in regards to new music to engage your mind with. Open your head and prepare dig in. All right, I’m getting back to the dungeon to work on this favorites list.

Three Years Here

FullSizeRender (3)So it was three years ago, on December 8th, 2011, that I put my toes in the waters of this blogging ocean. Before that point I’d often thought about starting a blog. The idea of having my own space out in this digital wilderness to spout off about, well, whatever, seemed like a great idea. I mostly just wanted to write about music that I love and occasionally my own music. But for the most part this would be my chance to live out those Lester Bang fantasies without any of the drugs and degradation.

After the usual procrastination I deal with when making a big decision I said the hell with it and began the journey known as jhubner73.com. Besides, you know, marrying my high school sweetheart and having some pretty cool kids with her, I feel this was probably one of the best things I ever could have done. I feel like since I started this blog I’ve become more focused. I feel as if I have an audience to my music-loving meanderings and my general existential rants about life and what have you. I never could have imagined how important this would become to me; and the folks I’ve come to know since starting this site. As cliche as this may sound, I feel like I’ve found my people out here. People that love and obsess over music like I do. Like-minded folks, both in art and in life in general. Though we can’t get together for a few stouts at the local pub and talk trash, we can all gather here every day and comment and chat about whatever is on our minds.

Going back to that first year it’s funny and a little painful to read some of the stuff I wrote. I was still attempting to find my blogular voice. I’ve become a much more disciplined writer in the three years since I’ve started this thing. Not only that, but I’ve moved from just music reviews and nonsensical elaborations on soup for New Year’s Eve and the value of Netflix when you’re sick, to band interviews and essays about my own life and anecdotal stories about my childhood. I’ve become a much better writer than I was when I started three years ago.

Sure, it’s just a blog. But for me it’s also a bit of my identity. It’s that internal voice that used to follow me around wherever I went. That voice I kept in my skull because I had nowhere to put it. Expounding on an album I was obsessing over; or relating a childhood memory to something my son told me when I picked him up from school; or some bizarre dream I had when I was seven years old that I never forgot. This is the place for that voice. It’s no put-on. It’s not me attempting to impress a group of strangers because I’m self-conscious. This is the guy that sits in his living room and makes his kids laugh hysterically at ridiculous jokes, or cracks his wife up at a restaurant on a date night. This is the guy that sits and talks on the phone for an hour with his mom because she needs to vent, or shares one too many beers with his best friend because he’s having a hard time. No put-ons here. Just me being honest and sharing things I deem worthy to share.

I’m not ashamed to admit it, folks; I love this space called jhubner73.com. Thanks for coming by and making it more than just an online journal for my ravings. If you come by and read regularly or semi-regularly…or even once a month, thanks. I never imagined I’d be a part of a community. I just wanted some place to scream into the abyss. I wanted somewhere to direct my overzealous spittle and spite. The fact that folks from all over the world stop in and drop me a line, indulge my thoughts and opinions, and even engage me and add their own two cents, well that’s just the icing on the cake.

It’s been three years now since I moved into this place. I like it here. I think I’ll stay a while longer. You are welcome anytime. I’ll always have some beers in the fridge and some pretzels in the pantry. But feel free to bring some snacks as well. Sharing is caring.

This is the very first thing I posted on here. It’s rough, but it was a start. It was also the first music review I wrote and submitted to a local publication. It was turned down. So I wrote this for my blog a couple days after I started it. I submitted it to the same publication and it was accepted. So began my career as a published music journalist(hack.) Enjoy…and don’t judge me. Please?