[Originally published January 8th, 2015.]
I didn't do a whole lot this year, all things considered. I put out a proper music EP based around samples from the first season of Xena: Warrior Princess, with my band A Truly Blonde Child; I made myself a birthday present, which was the first videogame I've ever made. I started a small videogame blog, which hopefully isn't totally dead. I got published thrice(-ish). And I did 2014 in Shit.
Also I made some strong claims about the canonical movies of film directors and ended up in This Year in Videogame Blogging (whoa). I'm reaching here. So I figured rather than recapping that, I might try to shout out some friends who have been doing cool stuff. That's what this is for. I know cool folks, and they do cool shit, so here's some stuff of theirs I thought was especially cool.
I don't actually know who is all part of the aanaaanaaanaaana.net collective, except that my old friend Zan-zan-zawa-veia is somehow involved. It's taken me way too long to listen to their stuff. This is in part their fault; they release stuff semi-frequently, and nearly all of it is in ".it" format. They also only have one album (that I've found) that explains how to listen to this. So here; go to the Schism Tracker site, and choose the version for your Operating System. Then, go download their album goldfinch, unpack the zip, and, in Schism Tracker, point to the folder it's in. Then double click on a song, and hit f5. Once the song has played through to your liking, click f9, load up a new one, and click f5 to start it. It's pretty easy, once you do it, and it's a really interesting way to listen to music. It helps that there are tracks like "darn owl" that completely smash your shit, and tracks like "hell_in_the_club" that will make you laugh out loud, and tracks like "egret" that are just straightforward pretty things that loop before you can make the keypress to start a new one and so you just end up listening to it again and maybe one more time, and again.
If you aren't sold on Zan's music based on this incredible little way of releasing it (you might have different interests than me, in that case), then you can click the link to her older release on Pause Music above, or on the other EP she released this year, Mist Slug. It's about fifteen minutes of intricate, abrasive chiptunes that take inspiration from torch songs and progressive rock. I've always been a little low-key infuriated with Zan, because everything about her music is something I would hate on paper, and it's only very, very occasionally that I can even manage to dislike it. If you buy the album, you also get about 30 extra short sketches of tracks. They're great too.
If there's one thing I can comfortably compare Zan's music to, without intending to draw any parallels in the artistry (only in my reaction to it) (although those parallels aren't necessarily not there, I dunno) it would be World's End Girlfriend. The thing that they share is that every time I sit down and listen to either Zan or WEG, I remember what it is about music that I give a shit about, really, at the most basic level. They're the kind of artists who I can sit there and smile at, whose little choices strike me as being just different from what I would expect, just better, so consistently. And those expectations are produced by the music itself. It might just be because I'm a big unknowledgeable jerk, and they just riff slightly enough; but whatever. I love it. Listen to Zan, and give the weird release type a try. It's not confident music, at least not all of the time, but it is funny. And not just in the "yo skrill drop it hard" samples, but in the way music can be uniquely funny and exciting, building up sounds and undercutting them and using that and churning beautifully.
Joyride! are some of the best folks. Their lead singer, Jenna, has been pretty instrumental in making my time in the Bay Area as good as it's been so far, not least because she put a whole hell of a lot of work in on the Dungeons & Dragons campaign (and its branching off into games like Monsterhearts and Dream Askew) that I GMed for ages. Without her work, I doubt I'd know much of anything about any music scene going in the area, which would mean I would never have found Tender Buttons or Wizard Apprentice or a number of other rad bands and spaces. There's something about knowing that there is a cool, vibrant community nearby, that you can interface with without having to "join" or whatever, that is still remarkable and beautiful to me.
Plus, Jason is a pretty great dude, and I imagine Eugene is too, though I doubt I'll ever really find out one way or another, and that's cool.
Joyride!'s album from this year is called Bodies of Water, and it's good. They're still an upbeat pop punk band who know how to operate comfortably within that formula without devolving into sameness. They play around within the limited structures available to the genre, and they know how to construct an album and a setlist to make those little variances mean something. It helps that Jenna's lyrics are unfailingly smart, in unassuming ways, and that all three of them together have the kind of chemistry that seems to encourage the kind of showmanship that doesn't hog a spotlight.
What makes me particularly excited about this new record, though, is how much these songs have enhanced their live show. I know that doesn't translate to "reading about them on the internet," but, well. The last time or two I've seen them live has marked a serious shift in their performance; where in the past few years they've been very good at playing the songs that they wrote, recently they seem to be much more interested in the set itself as an experience. This mostly comes out in terms of things like extending and blending outros/intros, allowing the time to be filled organically without being wanky. Sometimes it even gets a little metal, which I'm super into.
Standout tracks from the record, at least as far as I'm concerned, are probably Small Talk and Open Curtain. Both are mostly-straightforward pop punk, tinged with something that I'm going to be a jerk and call emotional maturity, even though I barely have any idea what that could possibly mean. There's a seriousness to Joyride!, as a band, that I sometimes (in my head at least) get down on, but Bodies of Water is, I think, their growing into that, and I am excited to see where they go from here. And the only reason I get down on it, I think, is because sometimes I forget how much fun there is in taking shit serious sometimes.
Both Bleubird and Babelfishh are on the short list of artists that I've opened for. It was two different shows, but in both of them I was playing IiIwayne, a weird performance art piece that I have no idea how I feel about anymore. There's video if you must. They're both good dudes for whom I have a lot of respect, and seeing that they had collaborated on a new song for the MISM records tenth anniversary comp had me stoked. Shout out to Papervehicle, who also played the show with Babelfishh and who are also good at what they do.
Money Grinder is one of those songs that I listened to after an extended period of not really listening to music. It happens more and more often these days. It's also one of those songs that reminded me immediately of how much I can fucking love music. Fishh just has the best fucking voice, and the production is droney and abrasive and it's all crashes for rhythm and transitions into whine and squeal. It also has the best fade out-to-hit I've heard in ages.
I'm not really sure why, but the way Bird says "oooh, free beer and pizza!" is incredibly funny to me. Bird's a funny dude. As far as punchlines go it's up there with "that was a setup for a punchline on duct tape," at least as far as I'm concerned. Which is maybe weird for a song that is clearly more interested in, to raise a bullshit binary briefly, the atmospheric potentials of rap rather than the poetic. But then, that's how words are work too, whether wordplay or soundscape.
They didn't release anything but demos, but my ATBC bandmate is in a band that is good and getting better.
Aurist has done a bunch of things over the years; most relevant here is their time spent making noise [dl link] (back when I met them) and their time spent writing (very good) poetry, back before alt lit had a proper name and a (fully developed) toxic culture. In the last couple years they have primarily been producing juke/footwork-inspired beats. I put that qualifying slash in there because I don't really follow that scene or know almost anything about the music, so if I end up sounding like that's the case I apologize in advance.
Early this year, they produced a song for the rapper Chae Buttuh called Doin' My Thang. I don't really know anything about Chae Buttuh except that I've listened to a few tracks and the collaboration with Aurist has happened a couple times. Also that I've liked what I heard.
Doin' My Thang is pretty fucking great. It's the kind of thing that makes me want to say shit like "Aurist has really come into their own" as a producer, even though that's not what I think or mean, given it would imply some sort of finality and I have no idea what they might end up doing next. Better perhaps to say that it is the kind of beat that is enriched by knowing something of the artist's history, even as it stands on its own as a pretty fucking cool piece of production. And it also happens to have a pretty fucking good rapper on top of it who knows how to work it.
Burning is a new project from a friend I've known for a very long time. I still call him AxemRangers, mostly, in the same way that -- well, look, here's the thing, I've been following professional wrestling a lot in the last year, so it's a referent I have now, and I'm going to use it, even though it's super not relevant for this particular discussion -- people still refer to Paul Levesque as Hunter, or the same way that CM Punk accidentally referred to Bryan Danielson as "Dragon" in the podcast. You know someone by their name, or their handle, and it's hard to make a new one stick. Here's that attempt at sticking.
It's weird because, in addition to the handle, AxemRangers was a music project prior to Burning that ended with 2013's The Axem Rangers Drop In. It's a fucking good track. I wrote a whole thing about it. Then I deleted it. Sorry. I forgot it came out in 2013.
The new track is on Allkore's new compilation, SEGA NERDCORE GENERATION. That's nerdcore in the Japanese sense, not the shitty american rap one. It's a fucking rad album. It's got Traffic Jammies and motherfucking DJ Sharpnel on it. Seriously, it's absolutely mindblowing. Buy the album.
Burning's my friend on it, though, so I'll spare you some incoherent ramblings on how Sharpnel moved me through both living at home and drives that were attempts at life that never panned out. He makes kick ass music. Which, in a tenuous way, is relevant; Burning is the dude that showed me Sharpnel, and that showed me the music that allowed me to appreciate Sharpnel in the first place. He's been there since I started messing around with the art thing, and is probably the single most important person in keeping it going. That's largely due to brokering no bullshit from me, in terms of the work. The personal bullshit is a whole other story.
Have goddess on your wings is a really fucking good song. I have an incredibly limited vocabulary for talking about music, but I'm not unconfident in saying that, if you were to try to talk about the song, the operative word would be texture. It flows, and it hits, and it moves, of course, and all the other things, but it's a song that builds, that requires attention to be enjoyed as much as it can be. It establishes a stage, and then removes it, and then rebuilds it while you are listening, adding to it in ways you don't immediately notice. The sort of thing that feels like it engages the whole range of possible sounds, even if it doesn't.
Have goddess on your wings is a song that establishes expectations, that knows how to refuse your desire that it be something different, and that then follows through on them. It's a great single song. And it's on a really fucking cool record.
My friend Toxxi made a bunch of music over a stretch of time. Listen to it.
I feel like I've been waiting to hear anything out of Tachyon Ghetto Blaster for like two years, even though it probably hasn't been that long. I can't even remember where I first heard about it; in all likelihood it was off of Kaigen's facebook. I also can't quite remember how I linked up with Kaigen in the first place; he came through the states a couple years back and I saw him live, and I ended up writing some bio stuff for him around the release of his last album, and we've been sort of in touch since. I still dig the fuck out of Re: bloomer, and was hella excited when the TGB stuff came out for Fake Four Freecember.
Kaigen's still Kaigen, and I love the hell out of him for it. He picks skittery, melodic beats with a hard foundation and walks confidently over them. Listening to him rap is kind of like watching someone knit; the words are grabbed, positioned, and woven over and around each other. The insistent taks are there, are productions of, but lose causality sometimes, seem divorced until you refocus. I mean this all, no matter how strained and (perhaps) unlikely, in the best possible way.
I don't really know Orko Eloheim's work, but I think the best way I can talk about him as the type of rapper that I'm glad exists even though I don't necessarily dig what he does. He's one of those dudes that (at least as best as I can figure it) is more interested in stringing words together by theme (generally in the family of "conspiracy theory," at least in terms of, let's say, mood) than more common techniques like narrative or comedy. If you think Aesop Rock you're not too far off, although from what I've heard of Eloheim he's a lot more focused. MF DOOM is also similarly sort of right. Death Grips has sort of been blowing up this spot for a minute, although I'd probably put Circus as the closest comparison. You could probably loop Warcloud/Holocaust in there, or maybe a couple of Ras Kass' songs. Death Grips(' "Guillotine") aside, to an extent, its some shit that I never really connected with, but that I've often wished I could. There's something about those weird pockets of rap that aren't necessarily in any formal way divergent from the genre but that still point to possibilities within it that aren't very well explored that I really fucking appreciate the existence of. And it helps that Eloheim is one of the better ones at the whole thing, who can channel the feeling of aggressiveness that needs to be there to talk about power and systems as abstractions.That is, as functions of language.
The point, really, is that I think the two of them mesh in a way I was hopeful for but not entirely confident would happen. But they do, and so all this post-hoc analytic rationalization isn't a good look. I'm super looking forward to Tachyon Ghetto Blaster's full length, and continuing to be a fan of Kaigen's future work.
Orem Ochiel was in a book this year, and published this review well worth your time and attention.
Grant is maybe the artist friend of mine who I see myself most in, albeit in different media. It's hard to talk about any single thing he did this last year, at least on the level of a linkable album. Off the top of my head, he's helped organize a poetry reading series, recorded a bunch of his poetry for his youtube channel, messed around on tumblr and ello, and has maintained the kind of twitter presence that made the medium so interesting in years past. If I'm allowed to project for a moment, he's the sort of artist for whom process is the goal, productions merely consequences. On good days, that's how I think of myself, even in a year where those productions ended up being severely lessened. And it's a little unfair to claim that is the case only for Grant; probably it is true, to a certain extent at least, for everyone who does this sort of thing, and especially for people for whom it is not done for a living. And it's not like he hasn't put out a book and a (physical) zine in the past couple years.
Maybe it just comes down to tone. A lot of Grant's art is incredibly funny, at least to me, and it is hard to articulate why that is in the sort of preview you can reasonably give someone before supplying them with a link to a little weird block of linebroken text following an image. It's also the kind of humor that lives in what can at times be dense theoretical/philosophical discussions. For me, again, it's very similar, in how it feels if nothing else, to the kind of humor I love in music; the moment to moment shifts in understanding, in anticipation being dragged out from under you, in the unexpected clash or the overdelivering on expectations. It's playing with the form it then suddenly remembering that there is a larger context to which it is chained. It's the identification of a moment of frustration, abandoned and left within a finished work. It's watching yourself fill in the potholes.
I'll mention, briefly, his recording of his poem "A Racist," if only because I, for whatever reason, ended up remixing it. The poem itself isn't some revelation; it's a goofy transposition, a way of exploring certain political/ethical subjectivities. It's a joke, I guess, that comes from a serious place. It isn't the ideal starting point to engage his work or even particularly exemplary. I just liked it, and especially his cadence in the reading, and that was amenable to chopping it up and squeezing it out into a terrible couple of songs, so I did. And that was fun.
When it was released, I think he was still going by Frank Dodds, which is the name I know him by second best. Nowadays it's Meddlr, and it's hella confusing. Frank's one of those dudes who you sometimes get asked about (in the abstract), in that "I like my friend but I don't really dig their art, how should I handle this" sort of way. Or at least, he was, back in the day. Not that that was even really operative, because back then we were making shitty internet noise for an audience of each other and some hypothetical unfortunates using last.fm's tag radio. The answer, at least from my own past, is to be a complete asshole about it, by the way. I have vague memories of him having a nightmare about me and a friend flying to Australia to troll him, both of us all painted up in full juggalo regalia. I kinda suck.
That's all changed in the last couple years, though, as Frank's moved away from noise and towards beat making. I dig the shit out of most of the stuff he's been doing, and this latest release clinched it for me. There aren't a lot of "instrumentals" type albums I've ever been able to give a shit about, even when they were by folks I liked personally, or producers who I adored. This is one, though. I listened to the whole goddamn thing right through, and did it again another time, and have revisited a couple of the tracks a number of times individually.
It's called fall out. Listen to "frosted" and "tongues" and "slider" if you have to test stuff out or whatever, but really just put it on when you've got some semi-occupied downtime. It's an album you can cook to (in the sense of preparing a meal), if you're making some lowkey shit, or put on when your roommates are home and you're down to hang out but aren't trying to actively encourage it. The kind of shit that bumps without being too invasive, that rewards attention without necessarily demanding (or even warranting) it straight through. Which is I guess to say that it's a fucking instrumental album. But it's fucking good at being one of those, and it isn't the kind of wheel spinning jerkoff bullshit that usually implies. It feels more like a move forward than a bunch of cuts that are worthless as material.
If I dunno shit about music or how to talk about it, then I know even less about how to talk about instrumental hip hop. So this'll have to be good enough. Give it a shot when you're halfheartedly browsing twitter or whatever on your computer, one of these days, and feel like you need a distraction from the distraction. However it goes, I imagine it won't disappoint.
Zareen's music is more than worth paying attention to.
I don't have any associations or history or real knowledge of what goth means, other than that at this point I wouldn't use it in any way other than very emphatically. The Bedroom Witch is goth. She's also, per her bandcamp tags, grave wave. If there's a song to start with, it's Moth Whispers. It's an incredible pop song, better live, but more "natural" recorded. It's hard to talk about her music, as someone whose closest real referent is probably Joy Division (or New Order).
Against that difficulty, of course, is the fact that The Bedroom Witch makes phenomenal music. Probably my actual favorite is Fast Forward or Push Rewind. Her music is the sort of thing that lays foundations; a simple, compelling, static-driven snare that complements a deep bass kick, supplemented by synths that are playful in an alienated, singular way, with a bass throbbing back and forth to round them out. It is, of course, her words that tie the whole thing together. These swim between the hooks that characterized the two songs mentioned and the sung-chanted rites throughout.
Unfortunately, I don't feel confident in talking about the words specifically. So listen.
My friend Tom, in addition to remixing a track from the A Truly Blonde Child EP, released a rap album this year, and I think it's pretty sweet. I still owe him a remix. Sorry about that, Tom.
Tom's probably one of the nicest dudes I know; despite not being directly active in the #spamfm chats of years gone by, he was always supportive of my music and the whole crew. He's gone so far as to feature me on his internet radio show a few times, which has always made me stoked. I mention this because doing the sort of small things that keep any community together is weird and unrecognized and incredibly hard, and there are especially weird extra little things that come when you tack on to the community label something like "creative" and "internet." I think his work there deserves some acknowledgment; certainly more than I can rightly give it. Hopefully some is better than none, though.
His album has been a few years in the making, if I remember correctly, and it shows. The albums strongest material is at the top and the bottom; Strange Things and State of Play in particular hit hard and Tom rhymes over them comfortably. I imagine the way he raps might not be everyone's favorite thing; his subjects tend toward the social as interpreted through the personal, and he isn't shy about filling up a bar or sixteen with syllables. He's also got that rainy fascist island accent if that bothers you.
Even if it does, Tom's more Warcloud than The Streets. And the production he favors hews closer to the more interesting things El-P has done than anything else. It's even got a fucking gay against you beat which is just nuts.
If there's one thing that Tom does really well, as a rapper, in my estimation, it's how well he manages to balance the seriousness of his shit with the playfulness of what he's doing. There's going to be some level of emphasis on playfulness and fun in all of the things here, because I'm talking about people who (mostly) don't do this shit for a living, who are pushing things out because they love to do it and because they have spaces and folks available to them to do so productively. Tom's ace at nabbing vocal samples; another deep cut, Agenda Binary (deep in that it was produced by Ten Thousand Free Men and Their Families), is rapping about computer shit over a chiptune beat with cameo-samples by other folks rapping about computer shit. It's fun.
L.E.'s shirts are fantastic.
It has, apparently, been nearly three years since I last wrote about Sole's music. That post was the most trafficked thing on my blog for the bulk of that time (That Hashtag has since surpassed it, though more recently than you might expect), and this is certainly not going to be on that level. In terms of analysis or of interest to anyone who isn't me. Sole's a good dude, though, and a friend, and has released some fantastic fucking music since then, and done some good work (especially around Occupy).
Back in June, he released his first full length collaboration with DJ Pain 1: Death Drive. It's fucking good. The Janitor's Son is fire; Baghdad Shake is the kind of goofy fuck you seriousness that is my favorite thing about what he does. Maybe it's the sort of thing that if you can't occasionally cringe at it and still enjoy it, you should skip. Fuck around with it, though. Maybe if you aren't hella right about everything all the time, like I'm sure not, and you can start from the position that he's just some asshole, you can get something from it.
The biggest point in that blog post of mine linked above, at least regarding Sole, is that he was, at the time, shifting from a Communist politics to an Anarchist politics, and that is as evident here as it has been for the last few years. I was thinking of it, then, as a shift fundamentally tied to the economics of the rap business, but it was certainly catalyzed by subsequent praxis; there may have been plenty of commies engaging with the camps, but even the ones who were crucial there were more communization than workerist (and the ones who weren't were often the worst). For what it's worth, I think he's made all his best music since that shift, even if we might disagree on some particulars of the ideal outcomes.
The reason, I think -- which I referred to jokingly with the cringing bit above -- is tied to what I've learned to really love about Sole's music since I wrote that post. To put it unnecessarily harshly, what I connect with is that he's kind of a fucking mess. Not that he doesn't have his shit together and isn't living a cool fucking life, or even that he doesn't know what he's doing. Just that if you take what he does less as pronouncing than trying his best to figure shit out, it's a lot more engaging. If that's the rubric, then the periodization switches; instead of Communist to Anarchist, it's a movement from the period where he externalized to one where he is learning to engage. And learning, I think, is the operative word, in the non-derogatory sense.
Here's another way to phrase it, in terms closer to how I actually feel: listen to Death Drive. Unless you think people who make things should know everything, and not be learning alongside you. That might be a problem.
It's maybe a case in point, but I mostly just want to manufacture an excuse to bring it up. There's a line on this record: "I used to rap like what's the meaning of life / like a fucking 19 year old white rapper knows the meaning of life." It's fucking good.
SBSM fucking rules. They're a grindy, noisy punk &c band that puts on really great shows and writes no bullshit songs. My only real complaint is that their work together means Placentaur has gone mostly quiet, but that's just being selfish. Placentaur's hella good though.
The album they put out this year is called Bitter Ends, and it is most of (maybe all) of the songs of theirs I know. It's the sort of album that you will come back to; maybe only after you've forgotten about it for a few months, but you will. There's too much going on in it not to.
Bitter Ends is the sort of album that is driven, from its opening moments, by what is probably called tone or atmosphere. It's the second song, Is This How The Party Ends?, where everything completely snaps together, but from the start you know what you're getting. I'm obviously failing miserably at describing this album.
Listen to Party, and listen to White Man, and listen to Rite to Die. Listen to them all in the context of the album, though. Or see SBSM live, if you get the chance.
Also listen to Scream Queens Radio. Like, whether or not you give a shit about the rest of this. It's a way better way to get a handle on what's happening than this could ever hope to be.
Shareef's the only person in my adult life that I've consistently played chess with. Prior to that, my main experience with it was wrecking the other nerds in my afterschool program when I was like eleven. It turns out the pawn wave opener isn't actually impenetrable.
This year, he released an album called A Place To Remember The Dead. He's a punky folk singer, whose shows are often dude with a guitar (and occasionally a couple regulars backing him up). He's a fucking good songwriter, and a friend who happens to be one of the sweetest people I've ever met, which helps, but I also think his songs are pretty fucking great. Especially live.
If there's one thing to note about his music, it's maybe not a thing that you'd want someone writing about your own shit to lead with. Maybe it's just because I know him, and I have to admit it wasn't something I picked up on immediately, but he has a tendency to overfill some of his lines with syllables. It's usually, I think, early in a chorus, and it's probably the single most endearing thing about his music to me. Which is different from, say, what I most admire about it; that stuff is the storytelling and structuring of the songs, mostly. But there are plenty of motherfuckers I admire (or there have been), and that only sustains my interest for a minute. I'm not much interested in becoming a better musician; I like being bad at it. That's a tangent, though.
I think Shareef's second best song (of all his songs I know) is The Tenderness in Me, and it is kind of the perfect example. This is an album that doesn't need to be listened through consecutively, so go ahead with it. Which isn't to say that it doesn't necessarily work as an album, or anything. But I think you can kind of get it from that. There's a weird, cute, great mix of ability and awkwardness in that song, and I can't speak highly enough of it.
From there, there's options. If you're sold, start from the beginning; the first three are fantastic, with the second a particularly punchy pop-folk song. Or for more, maybe I Want to Kiss Death. If you're one of those Politics folks, and are okay with the idea but aren't sold on the particulars, give Stone's Throw a shot.
If you don't dig any of it, maybe you're just a jerk. That's okay.
Sadists is probably my "album of 2014." Listen to it. You can read more if you have to, I guess.
I've never really listened to Hana's music before. I've, honestly, probably interacted with her more in the last three months than in the years I've known her. I'd like to say that's fine, though, because her release from last year, Soft Drink's Sadists, is just that good. Unfortunately, I can't, because the record's too good, and so oblique to my attempts to get farther into what motivates it, that I actively regret not getting to know her music better.
Here's the thing: it's really pleasant to listen to it. Through laptop speakers, through decent, plugged-in speakers, through headphones. There's layering going on that allows you to pay attention to the whole or any specific part in a way that will gratify your desire to hear neat sounds or their progression. It's great.
But if you opt for the final option. I mean, if you don't, it's still there: "I don't care if it buries me alive," "What's love when your heart is confused / if it isn't, defused." But if you do, if you catch what's mixed in low and sung in that I Have An Hour I Think I'm Alone voice. Well.
If there has to be one, maybe A Void is it. It's neither representative nor the best, but it is maybe the most approachable. It has programmed drums that swing, and a nice little melody, and it works better as a closer than an opener but it's also more hook-driven. They're all, structurally, probably, pop songs, but it feels like one. And I can't really go much farther, because I just really like it and can't do it justice, and hope you listen.
I really like Crabapple. Every time I listen to them, I remember this; whenever I'm not listening to them, it's hard to make it stick. They're fucking great to listen to. Maybe you won't become obsessed with their music. That's fine, I think. It's really great to listen to, though.
At the beginning of this year, they released is it you?, and I don't know that I have much to say about it. I remember seeing them, maybe before this, maybe after, and being impressed for the weirdest reason. I felt like, having seen them a few times before, they were sort of embracing the way that they were, as a band, way closer to surf rock than 90% of the pop punk I had ever heard. Which isn't to say that they are in any way a surf rock band. But that's kind of a really neat genre rubric to encounter, suddenly and briefly, in the middle of an entirely different thing. Which is, I guess, about as coherent as I imagine I will be able to be with regards Crabapple, and I'm kind of okay with that.
It's really great to listen to.
Jason, of Joyride!, put out a thing toward the end of the year. It's Hey Hallways' Absence Makes the Heart Forget. It's well worth your time.
Ceschi Ramos is a dude I met at a Fresno amusement park. It was some kind of label showcase deal, and it went for like ten hours. Ceschi ended up headlining, as one of three artists who were brought in to play. The other two -- Filkoe, whose name I knew from Sole's message board, and Astronautalis, who I had gone there with some friends to see -- were both great. I hadn't heard of Ceschi prior to that, and he fucking blew me away. The man puts on one of the best live shows I've ever seen, every time I see him. We, unfortunately, only got to ride go-karts with Astro and not Ceschi. But these days he's the one that still drops by to hang out whenever I'm at one of his shows.
I've seen Ceschi play a lot of shows since then, from a barn where we had a cake fight for his birthday to a venue in Boston, which is the only thing I did in Boston and the only thing I've ever done there. Plus a number of spots throughout the Bay, of course. The second to most recent time I saw him, he apologized and said he wouldn't be back for a while. That was at a bar where I had overheard the bartender proudly bragging about how he had threatened protesters against the Zimmerman verdict with a knife, to protect some property. I told Ceschi about that and he played Cop Killing Season. The apology, though, was because he was about to be thrown in prison on some completely bullshit drug charges.
Because of that time inside, he didn't end up releasing his usual slew of new work. There were still some gems though. Of what did come out, I'll mention two.
The first is an acoustic song by the name of Say Something, of which a video came out. It's a really nice song, He prefaces the recording by saying he's going to do another one about prison. That's not why it's nice.
The other thing, which will bring this full circle, is a guest verse on Tommy V's Fake Four Freecember release, along with his brother David. I saw David play that night in Boston, and everything I've caught of his recently has made me a bigger and bigger fan. And I will always remember Tommy V as the dude in the amusement park who offered me a smoke. His record as a whole is good, but this track in particular -- Wander -- is really fantastic.
Karen Tei Yamashita is easily the most important professor I've ever had, and she released a book this year. I've only read the titular play, but it goes hard and is amazing.
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