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Monday, January 13, 2020

2020: The Year I Tried to be a Music Critic....

As you know, I am a WORLD CLASS film critic. This cannot be disputed.

But, I have failed as a music critic. Behold my failures AFTER THE JUMP (!)

The self-proclaimed "Professor of American Rock Critics," jeff, presents...

His "consumer guide," if you will, for new music releases (est. 2019-2019)
which will remain forever incomplete, sadly, and for which he is very very
sorry indeed; he has created this page to do... something with, perhaps in
the very near future or never ever, forever more.
πŸ”‘ click here for the scoring key (which he invented)


!!!: Wallop 08.30.19 πŸ˜‘

+/-: Summer 2019 : Extended Play EP 09.06.19 Have to give the title of this release a shout-out; it made me chuckle, otherwise perfectly, mostly forgettable stuff that sounds exactly like what you think an EP released in summer 2019 by an "indie-tronic" band formed 2001 would sound like (also of note [read: not of note to anyone]: this is only the second time in history that !!! and +/- have released an album or EP in the same year; the first being 2004 [+/-'s As Seen on Television EP and !!!'s Louden Up Now LP] *

0 Stars: Blowing on a Marshmallow in Perpetuity 08.30.19 Emo-fried bedroom pop that is actually a little deeper than that (a few songs have a real flute, a few others use backmasking, etc) but still mostly sounds like that in the mostly good way songs that sound like that sound (“Home Alone 2: Lost in New York”) **

03 Greedo: Still Summer in the Projects 04.19.19 On his second 'official' LP, the prolific and unfortunately incarcerated rapper pumps out more of the trap-infused West Coast hip-hop he's known for **

5g: Therapy 01.08.19 “Fuck Friends” ✂️

100 gecs: 1000 gecs 05.31.19 Genre diarrhea (Genrerrhea?): to pop music what "2 girls 1 cup" was to porn. This is Nihilism with a capital N; the kids are packing an triple album's worth of ideas into an EP's length worth and they truly have nothing to say. I've never wanted to listen anything more. We can only talk in absolutes and superlatives now as we march toward the death of infinity gecs. 😎 A-

The 1865: Don't Tread on We! 01.25.19 Over-the-top commentary/satire set against a blend of mildly aggressive punk and alt rock, this project doesn't lack purpose but direction (“Hidden Track”) *

Adam Green: Engine of Paradise 09.06.19 Pleasantly familiar and lush rock and roll wrapped together in a throwback mode with lyrics bent towards these depressing modern times (“Freeze My Love”) ***

ALASKALASKA: The Dots 05.03.19 Some solid groove potential but still a band in search of conceptual and/or directional footing *

Alex Cameron: Miami Memory 09.13.19A wonderful collection of hilarious pop gems, hardly a lull over 10 songs in almost 40 minutes. Some might say it's not his place to address these topics (#MeToo, toxic masculinity) at all, and that's he doing so flippantly and with such humor is doubly irritating. After all, it's hard to take a line like "I'm eating your ass like an oyster" on the title track seriously. OK, impossible. I really appreciate the juxtaposition, though. And Cameron doesn't half-ass it: this is damn near a concept record insomuch as that lyrical thread touches each every song, however tangentially. It's the type of album where the lyrics are impossible to ignore, but if you can force yourself to do so, you're left with a masterclass in simple pop songwriting. 😎 A

Alice Hubble: Polarlichter 09.13.19 It feels like micro-dosing sub-genre, this pastiche of instrumental faux-soundtrack aural landscapes and straight-forward lyrics-laden electro-poppers that bite their influences hard ("Goddess" is more or less a Suicide homage, while "Kick the Habit" sounds like the song Blondie never released if Blondie only had a Casio to work with, etc.). The debut record by London-based Alice Hubble is accessible if nothing else; you won't need a telescope to see what's going on (sorry). But it never the less packs a depth in its variation of sound and etc and etc. 😎 B+

angelic milk: DIVINE BIKER LOVE 01.11.19 πŸ˜‘

B Boys: Dudu 07.26.19 Punk rock that's totally enjoyable but too overly derivative to be great; there are moments (the 48-second closing instrumental title track is a good example) when the sound pushes beyond that box, but it never quite breaks loose (“Pressure Inside”) ***

Beirut: Gallipoli 02.01.19 πŸ˜‘

Better Oblivion Community Center: s/t 01.24.19 πŸ’£

Billie Eilish: WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? 03.29.19 The term "genre-defying" gets thrown around a lot and feels largely meaningless in this ouroboric monoculture of ours. But hey, if the shoe or dripping eye fx or trite critical affectation fits… what stands out to me here is the how little this amalgamation of sound gets in the way of the songs. The star here is a strong melodic presence and surprisingly tight harmonies. Sure by the eighth song ("8") the ASMR-tinged vox wears thin, but the impossible-to-place production stylings never tire, carrying and connecting these thirteen tracks when Eilish's voice alone cannot. An outstanding debut record that will likely stand the test of the time because of how it so clearly doesn't give a shit about doing just that. 😎 A

Black Dresses: THANK YOU 02.05.19 "The Simulation was built to Break?" (↪🀯) 😎 A-

♪ Black Midi: "speedway" ✂️

♪ Bladee/Yung Lean: "Red Velvet" ✂️

Blanck Mass: Animated Violence Mild 08.16.19 Fourth full-length from the solo project of Benjamin John Power, one of the founding members of drone band Fuck Buttons, and easily his best/most interesting work as Blanck Mass to date. The sonics of this are more akin to some kind of demented 90s alternative than they are to anything happening in [insert current genre]. What it would sound like if Marilyn Manson's brain was converted into a supercomputer, only allowed to listen to Dream Theater and then asked to write elevator music. 😎 A-

Boy Harsher: Careful 02.01.19 Experiments in abstract droning meet fully formed post-wave synth songs and converge in and out of each other, occasionally melting in between. The sound as if an axe murder joined Chromatics, killed everyone in the band and reformed it with their haunted specters. With every spasm of orch hit we pay the price, and the toll goes directly to the voices screaming on the other side. 😎 B+

Boy Scouts: Free Company 08.30.19 πŸ˜‘

Buke & Gase: Scholars 01.18.19 Surprisingly evocative hooks can and do burst from the echoing chug (“Stumbler,” “Scholars”) **

Business of Dreams: Ripe for Anarchy 02.01.19 I kind of want to hate this for being so derivative (it's a stripped down love letter to new wave and 80s pop) but the hooks and sentiment are here, and the songs are good ("My Old Town," "N.R.E.A.M.," "Naive Scenes") ***

♪ Carla dal Forno: "So Much Better" b/w "Fever Walk" ✂️

Cass McCombs: Tip of the Sphere 02.08.19 You might say that this is one of the finest jamband studio albums ever recorded, but that's reductive and a potential insult to the genre-bending McCombs, whose certainly made one if the strongest LPs of his career here. Even if the bookends smell a bit Phishy (closing track "Rounder" seems to lift a riff almost verbatim from the group out of Vermont's "Free"), there's enough weird experimenting ("American Canyon Sutra") and folky chill ("Prayer for Another Day") to smooth everything out and settle it all down. Follow the lines going South? 😎 B+

Cat Temper: Henry (an electronic soundtrack to Eraserhead) 02.09.19 An incredibly original idea that––while I did not appreciate it within the intended framework (ie, I only have so much time for film I can't be synching movies I've already seen with unlicensed third party soundtracks duh)––nevertheless tickled me pink; an A+ for effort, a solid C as a standalone, and one of 2019's most delightfully inessential records for sure ***

Cat Temper: Purring For Vengeance / Digital Soul / Something Whiskered This Way Comes 2019/sup> Three––count em, three!––full-lengths from the aforementioned kitty pun loving, Eraserhead fan; electronic-synth music as if the Drive soundtrack was in high school and took ecstasy for the first time (too much to parse, but it seems fine) *

Cherry Glazerr: Stuffed & Ready 02.01.19 Third full-length from this L.A. rock band can't really overcome the parts that want this to be a 90s Rock Revival™ which rarely connect and hinder the songs (“Daddi”) *

Clairo: Immunity 08.02.19 There's nothing new here. But the trick is in its effortlessness, which allows the listener to imagine some utopian mishmosh of genre. Clairo's debut is certainly more polished than the scattered, impossibly casual YouTube hits that brought here. Yet it doesn't get bogged down or smothered by that sheen either. It's pop music with a subtle R&B vibe. 😎 A-

The Claypool Lennon Delirium: South of Reality 02.22.19 Primus-infused prog and Beatles-esque psych abound (duh) in this, the second Claypool-Lennon collab that is probably better than A) you think, and or B) it has any right to be ("Little Fishes," "Easily Charmed by Fools") ***

The Cool Greenhouse: Crap Cardboard Pet EP / Landlords EP 02.01.19 There's a moment on the song "Crap Art" when the lyrics hit home: "Cause a monkey can use photoshop / And a child can use Final Cut Pro X / to make everything feel the same." A rare feat these days among the ghastly wash of the unrelatable or contemptible. There's not a ton of info about this band online; they have 508 likes on Facebook. I always thought about that (re Photoshop/Final Cut Pro X) as a good thing. Isn't all art good art in the sense that it beats the alternative? It only took a middling UK post-punk outfit to make me a double take and that's OK. (Footnote: the difference between art and meme is explored on subsequent release Landlords b-side "4chan," so I might have mistook a foot in the mouth for cheekiness.) 😎 B+

♪ CupcakKe: "Squidward Nose" ✂️

DaBaby: Baby on Baby 03.01.19 The first 'proper' full-length from viral "Walker Texas Ranger" (✂️, included here) rapper is a vibrant af. A nice blend of his southern roots with some West Coast stylings he's clearly obsessed with ("Suge," "Tupac," the LA Dodgers hat on the album cover). DaBaby shines on the goofier side of things, when features that feel obligatory aren't bogging him down and he can just get weird whilst staying brief. 😎 B+

Dark Blue: Victory is Rated 02.22.19 πŸ˜‘

♪ Dark Thoughts: "Do You Dream?" ✂️

The Dave Harrington Group: Pure Imagination, No Country 02.01.19 A generally pleasant, if not cathartic listen of jazzy instrumental chaos, with an especially effective, inventive cover of the classic title track closing out the record (“Pure Imagination”) ***

David Vassalotti: new breed 01.25.19 Vassalotti doesn't vacillate; this is pretty much one speed but it's a well-constructed one ("The Other Light," "What Shall You Say Tonight?") **

DAWN: new breed 01.25.19 Tight R&B jams that attempt to mix mainstream pop sensibility with some abstract experimenting to agreeable if not always enjoyable results ("new breed," "jealousy") ***

Deerhunter: Why Hasn't Everything Disappeared Already? 01.18.19 Beginning with harpsichord and ending with harpsichord plus electronic piano, Bradford Cox has certainly lightened the mood tonally for his band's 8th record. It's been a subtle, natural move in this direction all along and, thankfully, the tunes haven't lost their teeth on the trip. 😎 A-

Diva Sweetly: In the Living Room 01.18.19 A well thought out debut from these nΓΌ emo or post-pop-punk upstarts that's interestingly weird at times but otherwise tedious (“Cult”) *

♪ Doja Cat ft. Rico Nasty: "Tia Tamera" ✂️

Eerie Wanda: Pet Town 01.25.19 Really nice second LP from audio and visual artist Marina Tadic. Just-weird-enough acoustic pop that doesn't mire too long in nostalgic sounds. Side B fades after some real stand-outs on the first half ("Pet Town," "Big Blue Bird," "Moon") but still: a strong collection from an artist who is obviously onto something great. 😎 B+

Felix Lee: Inna Daze 09.27.19 Vibey headphones experimental R&B co-signed by James Ferraro; the proper 'setting' for this type of music escapes me but perhaps that's the point **

Fidlar: Almost Free 01.25.19 ↪🀯

The Flaming Lip: King's Mouth 04.13.19 While it lacks a classic Lips banger, King's Mouth is the most outwardly blissful record the OKC weirdos have released in quite a while (at least sonically). This Record Store Day vinyl-only LP featuring narration from The Clash's Mick Jones had been held hostage (off streaming platforms) for months because things can still be special dammit! We're all at the mercy of an unseen power that can take things away just as easy as it gives. Maybe there's a lesson here after all. (Just don't look to these lyrics for any answers!) 😎 B+

Future: The WIZRD 01.18.19 πŸ˜‘

G Herbo: Still Swervin 02.01.19 A solid continuation of last year's Swervo that nonetheless doesn't break any new ground ("Sacrifice") **

♪ The Garden: "Thy Mission" ✂️

Gesaffelstein: Hyperion 03.08.19 French DJ guy who is apparently popular with the kids, making somewhat intriguing electronic music that absolutely falls apart when famous people get involved with doing vocals on the singles (The Weeknd and Pharrell's tracks are both straight πŸ’£'s) *

Girlpool: What Chaos is Imaginary 02.15.19 "Hire" is a perfect late-period Elliot Smith ripoff and the other 13 songs are all inoffensively fine *

The Glow: Am I 05.24.19 Debut project from LVL UP's Michael Caridi is a nice, layered affair, perfect for listening loudly; low-fi tones mingle with more polished elements on this solid LP ("Beamer") ***

Good Shade: Way Out 02.15.19 Feels like there are some interesting ideas trying to escape but they just can't burst out of their totally pleasant indie rock / pop-punk shell ("Must Have Been") *

Guided by Voices: Zeppelin over China 02.01.19 32 more Guided by Voices songs on par with last year's lone release Space Gun, which is to say: none too shabby additions to what amounts to an endless/pleasing void (“The Rally Boys”) ***

Gum Takes Tooth: Arrow 01.25.19 Truly inventive series of sound experiments that somehow manage to touch the mysterious ("Cold Chrome Hearts") and chaotic ("No Walls No Air") and often both at once ("The Arrow," "Borrowed Lies," "House Built of Fire"). A true sonic achievement that I could not begin explaining how it's made. 😎 A-

Health: VOL. 4 :: SLAVES OF FEAR 02.08.19 πŸ˜‘

♪ Hubert Lenoir ft. Kirin J. Callinan: "hunny bunny" ✂️

♪ Idles: "Mercedes Marxist" b/w "I Dream Guillotine" ✂️

Inter Arma: Sulphur English 04.12.19 ☕ (crazy stuff!)

J. McFarlane's Reality Guest: TA DA 01.25.19 Lead instrumental "Human Tissue Act" acts as a kind of warning shot: stay away if you ain't weird, the blast sounds. And those who gladly didn't close the tab know it was meant to be. Bolstered by beautiful melodies ("What Has He Bought") and bouncing dischord ("Your Torturer") alike, this debut full length from Julia McFarlane––previously known as Hot Topic, henceforth known as J. McFarlane's Reality Guest––is a lovely, divergent puzzle to unpack. 😎 A-

James Blake: Assume Form 01.18.19 Enough bleeps & bloops and pitched vocals hovering in the background to make even Skrillex swoon! (“Barefoot in the Park”) *

James Ferraro: Requiem for Recycled Earth 05.03.19 "🀠 TWO B+ RECORDS 🀠" (↪🀯) 😎 B+

Jane Church: Calimocho Molotov! 01.18.19 Come for the Bowie-biting tonal landscape, stay for the songs that actually carve out some of their own original territory on this debut (“Bleed,” “Demolition USA”) ***

Jenny Hval: The Practice of Love 09.13.19 So many subtle moments of beauty and depth, expertly inserted into some of the most concentrated songwriting of Jenny Hval's career. The spoken word parts might come off as obnoxiously literary but they pay off with a line here and line there, like any good poem. The seventh record from the Norwegian artist is certainly among her very best. 😎 A-

Jessica Pratt: Quiet Signs 02.08.19 ☕ (more like Quiet SONGS!)

jonathan leandoer127: Nectar 01.25.19 Delightfully weird (and surprisingly thoughtful) bedroom pop from Yung Lean's alter-ego. Some artists (most?) love to put out the "don't give a fuck" vibe, but few follow it up in practice with such leftfield projects that don't feel forced at all. 😎 B+

Jorge Elbrecht: Coral Cross - 002 02.12.19 Real-deal genre manipulator emerges with a balls-to-the-wall prog-metal LP a decade in the making; enough prog and other elements (not too mention amazing song titles like the back-to-back All Flesh Must Be Removed" and "Fossils Unlocked by a Boiling Sea") to keep this off the  list ***

Jozef Van Wissem & Jim Jarmusch: An Attempt to Draw Aside the Veil 02.08.19 Spooky drone shit with a few song-type instrusmental songs thrown into the middle *

Juan Waters: La Onda de Juan Pablo 01.25.19 Sparse but not simple, relaxing, Spanish-language acousti-pop, Juan Waters has made a lovely record. Inspired by, written and recorded in various locations throughout Latin America, La Onda de Juan Pablo is a personal record that you don't need to understand the language to appreciate. Standouts include "Guapa" and "A Volar." 😎 B+

Julian Lynch: Rat's Spit 01.18.19 Evoking the textures of classic era Eno, the lead guitarist for Real Estate has delivered a strong solo album, his first since joining the band and sixth overall; the songs aren’t bogged down by the experimentation and vice versa (“Meridian,” “Strawberry Cookies,” “Hexagonal Field”) ***

Juliana Hatfield: Weird 01.18.19 Stock stylings from proficient indie rock lifer (“Sugar”) *

Kanye West: Jesus is King 10.25.19 πŸ’£

Kitty: Rose Gold 04.05.19 Managing to hit on a throwback sound without being nostalgic at all, the second proper LP from former this "OK Cupid" seems to have more of a connection with video game music than it does with any synth-pop era. The '(rapper)' is better served weird and smallish ("kitty's farm," "counting all the starfish") than she is with big, swinging-for-it pop ("medicine"), but occasionally she finds a pleasant middleground ("window") as well. 😎 B+

♪ Lil Uzi Vert: "Free Uzi" ✂️

Lost Under Heaven: Love Hates What You Become 01.24.19 πŸ’£

♪ LSD: "Genius" ✂️

M83: DSVII 01.18.19 Billed, perplexingly, as a collection of "ambient tracks" this release, a "sequel" to 2007's Digital Shades Vol. 1 (Now That's What I Call Ambient), is more reminiscent to some laboratory concoction of smooth jazz and jazz fusion disguised as an homage to video game music, which is, at the very least, an interesting leftfield kinda look here in 2019 **

Majeure: Mass Flashback 09.27.19 πŸ˜‘

Malibu Ken (Tobacco/Aesop Rock): s/t 01.18.19 Was going to write “Tobacco is the perfect foil for Aesop’s old school flow” but there probably isn’t a rapper who could override the former’s signature style (“Tuesday”) *

Mark Deutrom: The Blue Bird 01.04.19 πŸ˜‘

Martina Lussi: s/t 01.18.19 Delicate explorations into "music" from an installation sound artist. Ranging from the foreboding (“Tuesday”) to the pensive yet hopeful ("Anarchy for Her"), Lussi has crafted an elegant soundscape fit for any space (or time). 😎 B+

Michael ChapmanTrue North 02.08.19 Old-timey folk sang by a weathered old-timer ("Full Bottle, Empty Heart," "Youth Is Wasted on the Young" ) **

♪ Mikal Cronin: "Undertow" / "Breathe" ✂️

Mike Krol: Power Chords 01.25.19 A really good collection of rockers. They never quite break out of their fuzzy punk parameters but nonetheless hit home with strong melodies throughout. 😎 B+

Mini DressesHeaven Sent 03.22.19 Managing the very fine line between pulling off nostalgic sounds in a modern setting and copying for copying's sake, the second full-length from this Boston band is polished indie rock that feels off the cuff ***

Monplaisir: The Agreement 01.25.19 πŸ˜‘

Neil Hamburger: Still Dwelling 01.25.19 It's shocking how ineffective this plays as novelty music actually. If you're familiar with Gregg Turkington's Neil Hamburger bit then the voice might make you giggle, but once removed from that angle, this plays like the AM Radio hits of some forgotten or undiscovered eccentric. From creepy weirdo ("Standing on the Corner") to whimsical fool ("Everything's Alright"), this set of mostly covers from the mid 80s and earlier are given the huge sound treatment of an even further bygone era. There are classics given new life (Heart's "Crazy on You" and Simon & Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound," "Little Love Cup"), but it's in the pair of originals ("The Luckiest Man in the Room") and relative obscurities (Paul McCartney's "Backwards Traveler," etc.) where this LP really shines, leaving you wanting more. This might be the best thing Neil hamburger has ever done and that's no laughing matter. 😎 A

Nivhek: After its own death / Walking in a spiral towards the house 02.08.19 The artist also known as Grouper emerges with a new name and new sounds that are suprisingly nice to listen to in the grocery store ***

Nkisi: 7 Directions 01.18.19 πŸ˜‘

Nonlocal Forest: Bubble Universe! 03.01.19 Deconstructed elevator music and smooth jazz that hits in all the ways stock vaporware mostly misses the mark. This record from the massively prolific Angel Marcloid is less chaotic and experimental than the things she assembles as Fire-Toolz (etc.), but it's still just as impactful. The sound as if video game music became sentient. 😎 A-

NOV3L: s/t EP 02.15.19 Jagged post punk that is very well executed if not fully able to rise above its influences on this debut 8-songer from Canadian 6-piece ("To Whom It May Concern") ***

Nudie Mag: Demo 2019 EP 01.18.19 A “demo” getting popular in 2019 is very funny to me, like they could have just given this a name and called it an EP; sounds fine to me (“Please Be the One”) *

Omni: Networker 11.01.19 A solidification of, rather than a furthering of earlier works, and that's no knock! Atlanta's Omni have made a really solid third record. Firmly in the mold of, and in debt to legendary band Television and that ilk, Omni continue to impress with songwriting chops equal to their instrumental chops. To perform the trick of making rhythmic tightness feel loose is no easy task. 😎 B+

Panda Bear: Buoys 02.08.19 Proficient and pleasant, with a quaint updating of that signature P.B. World of Reverb, these nine tracks have more space than ever before but come off a bit samey as a result. This version of the AnCo Man is mostly loose and aloof ("Dolphin," "Cranked," "Master") and occasionally folkish ("Buoys"). Side 2 offers a thankful diversion in the murky "Inner Monologue," but on the whole it lacks the punch of a great single to keep these Buoys afloat (sorry). 😎 B+

♪ Perfume Genius: "Eye in the Wall" ✂️

Pom Poko: Birthday 02.22.19 Chock-full of mathy inventiveness––jagged drumming and guitars squiggling about––but never losing grip of the song, the debut record from this Norwegian quartet really shines. Merging radio-ready hooks ("My Work is Full of Art") with noisey post-punk ("Crazy Energy Night") and all stops in between, the joy of this record might be best encapsulated by their cover non-cover fake-out whatever "Day Tripper." Pom Poko did not take the easy way out. So you say it's your Birthday? Indeed. 😎 A

♪ Princess Nokia: "Sugar Honey Iced Tea (S.H.I.T.)" ✂️

Purple Mountains: s/t 07.12.19 ↪🀯 πŸ˜Ž A+

♪ The Red Mirror: "BENT" ✂️

RetcH: Richer Than The Opps 01.11.19 πŸ˜‘

♪ Rico Nasty: "Roof" ✂️

Rustin Man: Drift Code 02.01.19 Nearly seventeen years in the making, the 'follow-up' to Paul Webb's much-beloved Beth Gibbons collab Out of Season is much more percussive though nonetheless folky; these feel more like dirges than ballads ("Vanishing Heart," "The World's in Town") ***

S. Araw Trio XIII: Activated 01.25.19 Chronic experimenters be experimentin', here with jagged photocopies of what one might describe as circus music *

♪ Say Sue Me: "At the End of the Road" ✂️

Sharkula x Mukqs: Prunce City 02.01.19 Seemingly stream of consciousness-esque, jagged-ass flow over hypnotic, far-out, occasionally chaotic beats; sounds like a gag at times and at those times it's working best ("Expand Your Mind") **

Sharon Von Etten: Remind Me Tommorow 01.18.19 A timeless record in the most generous and least pretentious defintion; in so much as the songs feel aesthetically apart from this (complicated/shitty?) moment in time, but grounded in the constant battle between our memories and being/feeling 'present' (Remind me tomorrow? OK). Two impeccable pop singles ("Comeback Kid" and "Seventeen") lead the way but there's little filler and no lack of variety on this great album, from the brooding trenches ("Memorial Day") to the soulful and sweet ("You Shadow"). 😎 A

Sir Babygirl: Crush on Me 02.15.19 Pure pop with a sense of humor? What more can you ask for! Blending 90 sensibilities with a big amazing voice, Sir Babygirl's only problem on her debut is that she can't reach the ultra highs she accomplishes on the pop gems of the mini LP's first half ("Heels," "Flirting with Her," "Cheerleader" and "Haunted House" are all superb). If I were a tasteless fool I might make the joke "this is what Grimes would sound like if Grimes had any talent." I can't wait to lose all my friends in one review. 😎 A-

Sneaks: Highway Hypnosis 01.25.19 Highway hypnosis, also known as white line fever, is a mental state in which a person can drive a truck or other automobile great distances, responding to external events in the expected, safe and correct manner with no recollection of having consciously done so, or––in this case––a solid genre-defying record that marks Eva Moolchan's loosest to date. 😎 B+

♪ So Drove: "Guitar" ✂️

♪ So Drove: "Money Slap" ✂️

Sofy Major: Total Dump 01.25.19 Melvins clones (from France) with song titles like "Shiny Happy Asshole" and "Franky Butthole" *

Steve Gunn: The Unseen in Between 01.18.19 No-frills folk best served with, well, some frills, a flourish, however subtle, to cut away wouldbe stagnancy ("Luciano") *

Steven Mason: About the Light 01.18.19 Echoes of the Beta Band abound on this the 4th album from their frontman; stylized over-production can both weigh songs down ("About the Light") and give them life ("America is Your Boyfriend," "Stars Around My Heart"). The crimes of the former, however, are easy to forgive on the whole, as the quality of hooks and general pop sensibility are impossible to ignore. 😎 B+

Sunwatchers: Illegal Moves 02.22.19 Classic fusion really, that works better rocking out with form ("New Dad Blues") than it does feeling free with jazz ("Everybody Play," etc) **

Telekinesis: Effluxion 02.22.19 πŸ˜‘

Theravada: Xennis Rodman 09.01.19 (get it?) The third in a trilogy of sports-related albums perhaps (see 2017's Xen Griffey and Xenny Hardaway––I love this idea/concept btw), Theravada's outsider rap marathon Xennis Rodman (91 tracks for #91 himself) is impossible to get through and that's the point; when no one has the time for anything, give them something that seems to last forever cuz... fuck it. But most of these tracks run under two minutes and some don't even have any rapping ("91," "Where's My Zune" lol etc), so, actually, maybe, I guess... stick around awhile? Let it wash over you, or pull you in like a certain someone corralling a rebound. Either/or, really. 😎 B+

Thyla: What's on Your Mind EP 01.11.19 πŸ˜‘

Tim Presley: I Have to Feed Larry's Hawk 01.25.19 Subtle and personal nuance within what would otherwise just be tremendous pastiche songwriting lifts this record from the White Fence painter far above the good to great. Wants and needs and the unseen in between can be a murky jumble of bits to unmuddle, let alone prioritize, in this life of immediate gratification, but thankfully we have artists like Tim to help guide us. (OR;;; Vascillating between Barrett-era floyd, the peers who likely influenced Syd and the very sound of music making one go mad, I Have to Feed Larry's Hawk is in need of some late 60s LP running time restraints, but has two full sides worth of a classic album among it. //Or (original thing here?))😎 A

Toro y Moi: Outer Peace 01.18.19 One-time genre manipulator hones in on funky smooth beats to respectable if not largely forgettable results ("Ordinary Pleasure," "Freelance") *

Twain: New Miami Sound 01.25.19 Proficient singer-songwriter fare with very good song titles (“Death (or S.F.?)”) *

The Twilight Sad: It Won/T Be Like This All The Time 01.18.19 πŸ˜‘

Vampire Weekend: Father of the Bride 05.03.19 "🀠 TWO B+ RECORDS 🀠" (↪🀯) 😎 B+

Vatican Shadow: Opium Crop Airstrikes EP 01.09.18 What is repetition if not unchanging? Music that makes you question the why and what-for is always inherently good. Most days are like the days passed, and the ever prolific Dominick Fernow wants us to ask why that is, with this his 30-somethingth release as Vatican Shadow alone. 😎 B+

♪ Vertical Scratchers: "Song of Earth" ✂️

Warish: s/t EP 02.01.19 Setting the bar impossibly high with a self-description of "Incesticide era Nirvana crossed with Static Age era Misfits," this debut 5-songer nonetheless gets an "A" for effort (in terms of knowing about specific compilation albums by famous artists) whilst completely neglecting to insert any semblance of those band's sense of melody or dynamics. 🀯

The Writhing Squares: Out of the Ether 01.25.19 Second full-length from "side project" duo of Daniel Provenzano (Purling Hiss, Spacin, Rosali & the Middlemen) and Kevin Nickles (Ecstatic Vision, Taiwan Housing Project) expands upon their droning jazz punk sound. They seek to remind us all about the proper way to deploy a saxophone. 😎 B+

Xiu Xiu: Girl with Basket of Fruit 02.08.19 Impossibly weird and never boring, the long-running experimental outfit's 11th is among their greatest achievements. A seamless blend of discordance, pulsating rhythmic blasts and a lyrical flood from the stream of a hellish subconscious. And yet hidden among the deluge are some true moments of beauty (quasi Scott Walker homage "The Wrong Thing," and the best song Bon Iver never wrote, "Normal Love"). Tucked inside this chaos, always a gem; sometimes, if you are too deeply involved with the music, you cannot escape the music. 😎 A-

ZYJK2 / SDFSD: ZZZZZZZ / YYYYYYY 01.25.19 Kind of really enjoyed this horrifying weirdo album. What else can I say? I'll say this: the product of a strange 'music label' (7FORM) that has 'released' over 60 'music releases' in the first 18 days of 2019 alone, you could probably just click one of these things and they'd also get highlighted as a B+ release on this consumer guide as well. And what's wrong with that… everyNot a thing, perhaps. 😎 B+



There are three essential tiers (all graded records––tier 1––designated via 😎):

An A+ is a record of sustained beauty, power, insight, groove, and/or yahoofizz that has invited and repaid repeated listenings in the daily life of someone with 5,000 other [insert content here] to get to.

An is a record that rarely flags for more than 2-3 tracks. Not every listener will feel what it's trying to do, but anyone with a Zune will agree that it's doing it.

An A- is the kind of boilerplate good record that is the great luxury of our horrifyingly misguided times. Anyone open to its aesthetic will enjoy more than half its tracks.

B+ is remarkable one way or another, yet also flirts with the humdrum or the half-assed.

*** Honorable Mention3 is an enjoyable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well treasure.

** Honorable Mention2 is a likable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well enjoy.

* Honorable Mention1 is a worthy effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well like.

A πŸ˜‘ may impress once or twice with consistent craft or an arresting track or two. Then it won't. Then it… won't.

A ✂️ is a good song on an album (and/or initial single, or: forever a standalone; the latter is designated via "♪" notation until further notice) wherein that album is either a πŸ˜‘ or a πŸ’£and never higher.

A πŸ’£ is a bad record whose details rarely merit further thought. At the upper level it may merely be overrated, disappointing, or dull. Down below it may be contemptible.

A 🀯 is a record that, while I don't personally like, I find the need to write about in further detail, either here or via shrimpkardashian.tumblr.com or ???, because it might be so horrible or mundane or confusing (or truly truly great), that it also might be _________ (and deserve more words)?

A ☕ is a record that is too out of my wheelhouse ('genre-specific' or otherwise) for me to weigh in on with any kind of well-intentioned gravitas, but: listing it here = I did give it a full listen.