‘hindered by sober restlessness’

q2

Back in December of last year I threatened to shut down this blog, or give it a break at the very least, and although certain aspects of life have gotten in the way of regular updates, I have somehow found time to keep it alive. I might not go to quite as many shows as I have in years past, but when I do, I make it a point to share my experiences with those willing to follow along. What I haven’t been able to do is share my thoughts on other aspects of pop culture. It’s true that my (not-so) new employer is a much larger force in my life than my previous one, but that does not mean I have completely abandoned my usual vices. Beer, books, movies, television and music are still a large part of my life. This post is a (not-so) quick rundown of how those vices have played a role in my world over the past 3 months.

Let’s get a quick drink in us before we take this trip down memory lane. I’d prefer to meet you at Crooked Stave for a nice glass of Origins, my staple sour when it’s available, but I realize many of you can’t make it to my favorite spot for a local barrel-aged brew, so crack a bottle of whatever it is you drink and let’s talk about about how Colorado continues to grow its footprint in the ever expanding beer mania sweeping our country.

There are literally too many new breweries opening to list them all here, but I am happy to say I earned my ‘first timer’ badge at Wits End, Black Shirt, Colorado Plus, Mountain Toad, Big Choice, Gravity and Redstone Meadery this quarter. You might think that with this many breweries they would all start to look and taste the same, but you would be wrong. Each one has something unique. Whether it be Black Shirt’s obsession with reds, Colorado Plus’s hometown tap list, or Mountain Toad’s patio, every location has its own flavor — it’s just a matter of finding the one for your particular palette. I’m sticking with River North and Renegade as my favorites in Denver, but it’s my top Boulder spot that I want to talk about next…

Avery wins the Gold for Q2CY13. Not only did they have me running around town, buying up limited bottles of their Momi Hiwa (a barrel aged Coconut Porter), they also hosted the 4th Annual Boulder SourFest. Momi Hiwa is one of the best beers I have ever had the opportunity to savor like the liquid crack it is, and the SourFest is one of those rare events that actually lives up to the hype. The impossible-to-get tickets are worth every penny, even if you paid a premium to pick them up from a scalper. There’s nothing like spending hours with special, rare, wild, sour beers.

Momi

Speaking of rare sours, Crooked Stave outdid themselves with their ROY-G-BIV Day — a special tapping of every Wild Wild Brett release coinciding with the bottle release of the Wild Wild Brett Violet. Talk about a shitshow! People stood in line for over 3 hours, to buy a beer they had never tasted, only to be turned away when the limited stock disappeared. Some people left pissed, but I was just stoked to have been able to taste the rainbow. Not bad for a day spent in a shitty industrial park.

The last beer event this quarter was the annual celebration of Great Divide. The Denver staple has now been providing the Mile High City will it’s incredible concoctions for 19 years! Saying goodbye to their teens in style, the brewery shut down the streets once again — knocking people down, one full pour at a time. As I watched people drink Yeti like it was water on a hot day, I couldn’t pretend to be surprised when the sold-out crowd staggered (at best) and fell (at worst) out of this party.

The one event I am kicking myself for missing is TRVE’s 1st Anniversary Party and the tap take-over/show at Hi-Dive that went along with it. Here’s to getting Year 2 on my Calendar asap!

So once again, if you live in Colorado, there is no excuse not to become familiar with all these amazing breweries/taphouses we are lucky enough to have in our midst. There is probably a new one opening in your hood this week!  And if you don’t live in Denver, I’m sure there’s at least one micro/nano brewery near you as well, so go check it out!

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I don’t always escape reality through 9.5% imperial stouts; sometimes I let the moving pictures take me away to that special place. I even managed to make it to the theater a few times over the past few months. Mud was an excellent addition to what has become a trilogy of Southern films from Jeff Nichols (brother to Ben Nichols of Lucero). I highly recommend starting with Shotgun Stories before moving on to the terrifying modern classic, Take Shelter. Michael Shannon is the perfect vehicle in which Nichols expresses the South he grew up in.

As for blockbusters, I was able to attend a premier screening of Star Trek Into Darkness for a work event and I actually enjoyed it despite not being a huge Star Trek fan. We took the kid to see Jurassic Park in 3D — a film that has held up pretty damn well over the past two decades. Monsters University was as good as can be expected, proving Pixar still makes the best animated movies out there, even if they can’t quite compete with their earlier work. I had the privilege of being kept completely in the dark about This is the End until I saw it. It turned out to be instant classic in my book! I haven’t laughed that hard in a public since Old School. Well done!

Before Sunrise was one of those romantic films that I didn’t want to admit to liking as much as I did. When Before Sunset came out, I went and saw a matinee by myself (when I probably should have been working) and I liked it even more than the first one. Nine years later I was a bit more comfortable seeing Before Midnight at a late-night showing with my wife. And holy crap! Jesse and Celine are not doing very well. I love when movies are real, but parts of this were hard to watch. Celine is a serious bitch in her old(er) age. That being said, what an incredibly written and shot film. These are the films Linklater will be remembered for. I just hope we get another one nine years from now.

It was on the small screen that I continued to work my way through the movies I had missed. Watching Lincoln and Django Unchained in the same evening was a test of endurance, but I did enjoy both films in very different ways. Les Misérables is still one of my absolute favorite stories to have ever been told, but I’m not sure we needed another adaptation. Say what you will about the accuracy of The Impossible, but don’t say it wasn’t fucking intense as hell — I won’t get some of those images out of my head any time soon. Yes, it was about the white tourists more than about the local people, but that is the story it was telling, so I’m not sure what the argument is there. I also enjoyed Killing Them Softly, Side Effects and Cloud Atlas, although I wouldn’t go out of my way to see any of them again.

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As for television, Louie came back with an HBO special based on material from his latest tour. I saw him on that tour and I watched the special, and I laughed both times, but not nearly as hard as I did for Hilarious. Anthony Bourdain moved over to CNN with Parts Unknown, and having been to Myanmar myself, I loved the first episode, but as the program ran, I really came to detest the format. Arrested Development is back on NetFlix and I can’t watch it. Having just gone back through the first 3 seasons, I couldn’t even get through 5 episodes of this new version. It just isn’t funny.The Office was finally put out of its misery, but it was still sad to see it go. And as surprising as it might sound, I find New Girl to be the funniest thing on tv. It really is the new Friends. Pair it up with Modern Family and you have a couple sitcoms worth watching.

Somehow I got through another season of Mad Men. I keep trying to quit that show, yet I keep watching. This season did end really well, with Don coming clean and all that. I hope next season is the last. I am enjoying the story, but I think it’s time to come to a close. I won’t even talk about Games of Thrones. If you watch it, you know it’s still badass. If you haven’t watched it, I don’t want to give anything away. I am just bummed that nothing comes as a shock anymore — not since I read the books.

Two shows that have really impressed me lately are the Discovery Channel’s North America, an incredibly shot nature series, and Sundance Channel’s Rectify, the story of a man released from prison after serving 19 years for raping and murdering his teenage girlfriend. He is released based on DNA evidence, but you really don’t know if he is guilty or not. The plot revolves around how his tiny hometown deals with his release and integration into their community.

No show has ever meant more to me than The Sopranos. I will argue that The Wire is the better show, but there was nothing like The Sopranos when it first aired. It changed tv completely. And growing up in an Italian American family, it hit home. News of James Gandolfini’s death hit me harder than it should have — almost as if I knew the guy. I started Season 1, Episode 1 the day he died and I am now starting Season 2. I’m just working my way to a black screen once again. Such a great show! Such an amazing character! R.I.P. Tony Soprano. R.I.P. James Gandolfini.

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Despite the title of the book pictured above, A Working Theory of Love isn’t really about love. It’s a self-reflecting mirror into a ‘Peter Pan lifestyle’ that can only be found in San Francisco. The protagonist reveals as much of himself as he possibly can, but in all reality, he doesn’t know himself well enough to have much substance. That is why San Francisco is the real star of this story. I recommend this read for anyone who is curious about what it’s like to live in the city by the bay. It might be based around a study of artificial intelligence, but it doesn’t get much more real than this.

I also got around to reading Keith Richard’s Life and the Steve Jobs biography. Life had some good stories, but was an awful read. Water Isaacson’s window into the life of Jobs exposed an asshole of epic proportions, but there’s no denying that the man was a genius when it came to merging art with technology. His relentless pursuit of perfection shaped the world of consumer technology we see today. I really didn’t realize how much his products had affected my life – from my first Apple experience in 3rd grade, all the way to the computer I’m writing this on. Steve Jobs is one of the best biographies I’ve read in a very long time.

Getting back to my roots, horror writing, I once again traveled to the Cthulhu Mythos via The Call of Cthulu and Other Weird Stories. It’s always nice (and disturbing) to visit with Lovecraft every so often. I also read my first comic book (graphic novel) in the form of The Walking Dead Compendium One. And as much as I enjoyed it, I’m not going to read ahead. I don’t want to ruin the element of surprise in the show the way I did with Game of Thrones. And I’ve been keeping up on Stephen King as well. He was the first author I ever got into (my first book report was on Christine) and I still read everything he releases. I’m only halfway through Joyland, a couple episodes into Under the Dome, and one listen into Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, but so far it’s a been good year for King fans.

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Most of the live shows have been covered in posts of their own, but there were some real highlights over the past few months, starting with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at the Ogden Theatre. I’ve been wanting to see Nick Cave for many years now and it was worth the wait. The new album still sits at the top of my charts this year and this performance will be hard to beat. I also saw quite a few other acts for the first time. After missing so many Low shows, I finally caught them at Larimer Lounge. I was also able to catch American Aquarium perform songs from Burn. Flicker. Die. at Moe’s and I still can’t get enough of that album!  Danzig and Doyle made up for the disappointing Fun Fun Fun Fest debacle with a Misfits set that will never be forgotten. The Rodriguez show was unfortunately moved to the 1stBank Center after Searching for Sugar Man won an Oscar, but it was still a real treat to witness the lost legend in action. The only other band I wanted to see bad enough to journey to Broomfield was Sigur Rós, who put on a show that made the drive, and the venue, worth it. I got shitfaced drunk at Face to Face, Lucero and at 3 Kings with the boys from Arliss Nancy and Micheal Dean (before he hung it up to head home).  I wanted to kick the shit out of the new bassist for Drive-By Truckers…I wore out my ear drums at Death to All, Anciients and Lamb of God…I relived various parts of my youth through an amazing set by the Geto Boys and a night of 90’s revival with Everclear, Live, Filter and Sponge. I also dropped close to a grand to take my wife to see Prince…twice…at the Ogden Theatre. And unbelievably, it was worth every dollar! James Blake wasn’t quite as costly, but also made for a great date night. Mark Kozelek was another great evening with the wife, even though he was kind of a dick. That was also my first time to the Soiled Dove — a great little spot. Just don’t eat wings in the front row when Kozelek is in town, unless you crave negative attention!

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And then there’s Red Rocks. We are in the midst of my 5th season at the amphitheatre and it’s been a good one so far. While most people kicked it off with a run of Zac Brown Band shows, I was in Miami for a sales event. Sucks for me, but I did make up for it at the Vampire Weekend / Of Monsters and Men show. We brought our daughter to that one, and at 10 years old, it was nice to see her truly enjoy a show. She’s a big Of Monsters and Men fan and she sang every word to every song while jumping up and down on the benches. Such a great experience. Vampire Weekend proved to the sold-out crowd that they are a much better band than the one who came through a couple years ago. Then there was Red Rocks Show #50 (for me): The Postal Service. I’m one of those people who absolutely loved Give Up when it was released in ’03, but I am also one of those people who don’t think it’s aged well. The same cannot be said for Benjamin Gibbard, Jimmy Tamborello and Jenny Lewis. They came out onto that stage and made Give Up seem like it was released last week!  Incredible show. One of the best this year!

Alabama Shakes outshone Edward Sharpe and his Magnetic Zeros. Marilyn Manson outdid Alice Cooper. Amanda Palmer upstaged DeVotchKa. Three shows in a row where the opener was better than the headliner — at least in my opinion. But no complaints there — every night on the Rocks is a great night, no matter who’s playing first or last. And that brings us to my biggest surprise of the year — Widespread Panic. As a self-described ‘hater’ of jambands, I found myself at the Sunday show…dancing and having a good time. Now, I’ll never change my mind about long jams being the most boring form of musical expression, but I have changed my mind about a daytime Panic show at Red Rocks. Great people, great energy, great place. And the music wasn’t so bad either. Who knew? And there’s still another half a season to look forward to! Can’t wait for Robert Plant, Black Angels, Dinosaur Jr., Phoenix, Descendents, Queens of the Stone Age and The National.

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The Knife are back. The Replacements are back. Nine Inch Nails are back. The National are back. James Blake is back. Sigur Rós are truly back (Valtari didn’t count). Wise Blood is back. Kanye’s back…although I’m not sure he ever went away.

Jeff Hanneman is dead. George Jones is dead. One half of Kriss Kross is dead. And Brad Paisley and LL Cool J might as well be, after releasing that abomination they call a song.

This was the first year I skipped Westword Music Showcase and I might skip UMS as well. Maybe I’m out of touch, but both line-ups seem to suck pretty bad. I might try to do Portland’s MusicFestNW instead.

I’ve been disappointed in Profound Lore this year, but I’m still intrigued (if not in love) with what Sacred Bones releases to the world. I bought a bunch of stuff at Record Store Day, but have yet to listen to any of it.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Slayer lately. I’ve also been listening to a lot of old Sigur Rós. I’ve been listening to Prince, Misfits and Townes Van Zandt quite a bit, but here are 16 albums from the past 3 months that are really worth talking about….

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Anciients – Heart of Oak
(Season of Mist, 2013)

When the Death to All Tour came through Denver with a late season blizzard, Heart of Oak had only been out for a couple days. I was able to listen to it a couple times before Anciients opened that show, but it wasn’t until the weeks which followed that I was able to immerse myself in the material. This debut album manages to run the gamut of metal subgenres without losing itself in experimentation. Maybe I’ve just been looking in the wrong places, but I’m extremely surprised that this band from Vancouver, B.C. has not made more waves in the metal community. By far one of my favorite albums of the year, I’m just bummed we showed up too late to make their opening set for Lamb of God last month.

Anciients – Raise the Sun

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Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
(Columbia, 2013)

When I think of Daft Punk I think of “Around the World” and “One More Time”. Before Random Access Memories, I probably couldn’t name any other songs from this electronic duo. Those tracks were fun when they were released, but they wore on my nerves quickly. I really wasn’t a fan of electronic music back then, so their revolution passed me by. It wasn’t until their name came up in every article about the new scene in the U.S. that I realized their impact on the genre. All this press made it difficult to ignore their comeback, but even with it, I came into Random Access Memories a skeptic. I left a believer. One day I might go back and listen to Homework and Discovery again, just to see what I was missing back then, but for now I’m completely content with these 13 tracks on repeat.

Daft Punk – Get Lucky

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Deafheaven – Sunbather
(Deathwish, 2013)

Deafheaven released their demo in June of 2010. One year later they performed at Blast-O-Mat with a crew of hardcore bands. Roads to Judah had inspired some positive press, so we spoke with George and Kerry that night about the positive (and negative) reactions to their music, and more importantly, their style. Deafheaven are from San Francisco, they are clean cut kids, and they arn’t exactly kvlt, so some in the usbm scene (whatever that means) have a problem with them. I am not one of those people. Roads to Judah was a great example of how shoegaze and black metal can be cousins, but Sunbather is the pinnacle of a subgenre called blackgaze. The pink cover and lyrical content might not win them any new followers from the dark side, but this just might be the crossover album that introduces this style to the masses.  Although, that’s probably a stretch. Deafheaven are one of my favorite bands right now, and Sunbather is a contender for my ‘album of the year’ pick, but I seriously doubt it’s going to appeal to those who don’t understand black metal vocal styles. I just hope their headlining show at Marquis is able to drive the attendance they deserve. It’s going to be good to see the guys again.

Deafheaven – Dream House

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Ghost – Infestissumam
(Loma Vista, 2013)

Sometime I ask myself if I would be as into Ghost if it weren’t for all the pageantry. The costumes and anonymity have caused more than a few debates around the validity of this band. Are they just another GWAR or Insane Clown Posse, as suggested by some? Or do the hoods and masks just make this act more entertaining? I tend to believe the latter. These guys, whoever they are, know how to make music. This is some of the catchiest rock this side of the hair bands of the 80’s. Sure, singing about Lucifer and calling your performances ‘rituals’ might bring a few more kids to the show, but at the end of the day, it’s the whole package that keeps me coming back. If I didn’t like the music, I wouldn’t listen to the albums. If I didn’t like the charade, I wouldn’t go to the shows. It turns out I like both, and while Infestissumam isn’t quite as good as Opus Eponymous, it’s still a great album.

Ghost – Year Zero

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Jason Isbell – Southeastern
(Relativity, 2013)

Jason Isbell was my favorite Trucker back in the day. It was heartbreaking to see him leave the band. His solo work has always been a notch or two above his peers, but it lacked the depth and personality found in his DBT contributions. That has all changed with Southeastern.  Evidently Isbell is sober and remarried. I’d probably have known that if I still followed him on Facebook and Twitter, but I had to shut that shit down after my 10th morning of waking up to dozens of posts from the night before. I’m guessing some of that led to his newfound sobriety. Well, whatever happened in his personal life, it did wonders for his songwriting! Jason Isbell has finally become more than just another ex-Drive By Trucker.  Good for him!  And good for us!

Jason Isbell – Cover Me Up

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John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts
(Bella Union, 2013)

John Grant made a name for himself as the frontman for Denver-based band,The Czars. I won’t pretend I ever knew the band, because the first time I heard the name John Grant was in praise of his album Queen of Denmark. Nothing about that album did it for me, so I was pleasantly surprised by the material on his latest effort. Pale Green Ghosts refer to the “trees that line the Colorado byways by which he oriented himself”, and the album itself does finds a home in Colorado, but it also stretches out across the world — past, present and future. The openly gay, HIV-positive Grant is a genius at layering humour over some very angry feelings. And although the tracks don’t flow so well into one another, each one is a story worth your time.

John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts

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John Moreland – In The Throes
(Last Chance, 2013)

If you’re into singer-songwriters with a boozy country feel, then you need to follow Ninebullets.net. I don’t always buy what they’re selling, but they knock me on my ass at least a half dozen times a year. In The Throes would have passed unnoticed if Bryan Childs and his crew wouldn’t have shoved it down my throat like a shot of Jamo at 4am. Every time I turned around, they were insulting me for not loving this album. So I kept listening to it, despite the fact I was only lukewarm to the songs in the beginning. And I have to say I have come around. The lyrics alone are impossibly relevant, but the songwriting and rough production make this a perfect example of what country music should be.

John Moreland – Nobody Gives A Damn About Songs Anymore

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Kanye West – Yeezus
(Def Jam, 2013)

What can I say about this album that hasn’t already been said? It seems everyone either absolutely LOVES!!! or absolutely HATES!!! it. Opinions about Kanye are like assholes, some think he is one, and he toasts the rest of them. Whatever you think of Kanye, he has created a persona that’s big enough that it might never die, or fade away. Kanye knows exactly what he’s doing.  He doesn’t think he’s the new Steve Jobs any more than the Geto Boys really wanted to kill your grandma, or that LL Cool J really thought he was bigger and deffer than anyone else on wax. He is playing a part, and I think the ‘Kanye’ he has created is better than anything a Hollywood writer could make up. That all said, it wouldn’t work if he wasn’t talented, but he is, so it does. Is this album going to change hip-hop? No. Is it his best album? No. Is it different and fun and loud and distorted (in a good way)? Yes. Are the lyrics ridiculous? Yes. But that’s kind of the point. People believe Kanye believes what he’s saying, and as they repeat and embellish what he says, they just ensure his status at the top of pop culture. And I have no problem with that.

Kanye West – New Slaves

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Lightning Dust – Fantasy
(Jagjaguwar, 2013)

Fantasy isn’t getting a lot of love. It was a quiet release and the reviews have been warm at best. I understand that. Lightning Dust’s latest release would have a hard time drawing any attention away from Black Mountain, Pink Mountaintops, or even previous Lightning Dust albums. But all comparisons aside, Fantasy is a nice little surprise this year. I didn’t even know it was coming until it was here. But now that’s it’s here, I can’t stop listening to it. Amber Webber is one of my favorite female vocalists, and while the music on these tracks is a little weak compared to her other projects, her voice shines through — making this one of my favorite albums of the year.

Lightning Dust – Diamond

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Majical Cloudz – Impersonator
(Matador, 2013)

Devon Welsh and Matthew Otto are Majical Cloudz — a Canadian confessional project that finds Welsh’s deadpan delivery backed by synth pop beats. Impersonator is the perfect title for their sophomore album, because as much as it might seem like Welsh’s lyrics are autobiographical, closer inspection will reveal him to be a man of many faces. He is both the infant in the crib and the monsters hovering around it. This album isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s a ‘what you see is what you get’ type of thing. The stories might not be honest, but the music is. If you don’t like what you hear on the first track, the next 9 are unlikely to change your mind. This has been a slow burner for me, but at the end of day, I find it to be an engaging, intriguing display of songwriting.

>Majical Cloudz – This is Magic

PERILS

Mark Kozelek & Jimmy LaValle – Perils from the Sea
(Caldo Verde, 2013)

Jimmy LaValle might have provided the music for Perils from the Sea, but if you’re expecting a departure from Kozelek’s past 20 albums, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Mark Kozelek is a storyteller, and what you’ll find here are 11 new stories. They range from psycho ex-boyfriends, to hotels and motels, to tragic stories of illegal immigrants calling collect from a payphone in Tijuana. We saw Kozelek tour for this album and I was thoroughly entertained by his banter. He presents himself as a washed up never-has-been who is angry with his life, the road, and even the fans in the front row. I’m sure it’s all an act, but I’m not complaining. Where would music be without sad, angry bastards like Mark Kozelek?

Mark Kozelek & Jimmy LaValle – You Missed My Heart

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The National – Trouble Will Find Me
(4AD, 2013)

Trouble Will Find Me isn’t going to win The National any new fans. It wasn’t meant to. The National are one of those bands that you either get, or you don’t. You either allow yourself to swim in the layers of emotion, or you get stuck at the surface…only to declare the music ‘boring’. I’m not going to argue, or try to convince anyone that The National are not boring. If they hadn’t been one of my favorite bands since the first time I heard Alligator, they would have been by the first time I heard “About Today”. But if I were an outsider who had just heard one of their songs in passing, I probably wouldn’t think much of this band. The National are for people who have patience with music. If you give them some time, they will not only impress you, they will blow your fucking mind. I’ve been loyal to quite a few artists since I’ve said goodbye to my 20’s, but I would be hard pressed to name another band that has been a bigger part of my 30’s. Maybe that makes them ‘dad rock’, maybe not. All I know is that Trouble Will Find Me finds the band with little left to prove. It also serves as the reason why.

The National – Demons

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Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels
(Fool’s Gold, 2013)

El-P and Killer Mike both released incredible albums last year. And now they are back with their Run the Jewels collab. Released as a free mixtape (and paid deluxe package) on June 26th, Run the Jewels is more than just a thrown together mixtape — this is a full blown album with a guestlist that reads like a whos-who of modern hip-hop. This is some hardcore rap, and it proves once again that El-P and Killer Mike are an unstoppable force. I’m heading out to California to visit friends and family at the end of July and my itinerary is based around this show at The Independent in San Francisco. I was already excited about getting back to my old stomping grounds, but Run the Jewels have heightened my excitement to a new level!

Run the Jewels – Banana Clipper

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Savages – Silence Yourself
(Matador, 2013)

There are more post-punk/no wave revival bands out there than you could possibly have time to listen to, but none that are doing it quite as well as England’s Savages. The easiest way to put them in a box they don’t derserve to be in would be to call them a female Joy Division. There is an uncomfortable sense that something bad is going to happen on this album, from the first clip of Cassavetes’ Opening Night to the can’t-look-away account of domestic abuse, but there is also a welcome sense of forbearance — as if these girls really can silence the world. Can Savages be our voice while we focus on those things worth focusing on?  Probably not, but if you’re going to have a manifesto of sorts, it’s not a bad one to have.

Savages – Shut Up

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Sigur Rós – Kveikur
(XL, 2013)

The first time I listened to Takk… was after a night out in San Francisco. I was laying in bed and had it playing quietly on my computer speakers. I was almost asleep when it really kicked in. I had never heard Sigur Rós before, so obviously I wasn’t expecting what I heard. I immediately jumped out of bed to turn the music down before I got an angry call from my upstairs neighbor. That transition from beautifully quiet to crashing chaos is what made me a Sigur Rós fan. Takk… was my intro, but Ágætis byrjun became my favorite album. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see the band live until Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust was released, and as good as the show was, the material from that album really disappointed me. The hiatus came shortly after and I wasn’t sad to see them go. When they came back with Valatari, I was even more disappointed. They had lost everything that made me love them in the first place. That album didn’t have enough on it to piss off a sleeping roommate, much less an upstairs neighbor!  That is why Kveikur is such a welcome return from a band who have finally found their follow-up to Takk…. This album is overflowing with the brooding sounds that we expect from Sigur Rós.  It’s so good to have them back!

Sigur Rós – Kveikur

Vampire Weekend.

Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
(XL, 2013)

Vampire Weekend get better with age. Their first album drown in its overblown praise. Their second album showed promise. Modern Vampires of the City delivers on that promise. This is a young band that have finally found a mature sound — a sound of their own. I don’t believe they are ever going to change the sound of pop music, like some thought they would, but I do believe this album contains some of the best songs you’re likely to find from a band that somehow maintains indie cred while also receiving extended radio play. I’ve seen Vampire Weekend live at least once for every album release, and I have to say that the recent show at Red Rocks proved that they have not only stepped up their studio sound, but they are also a much better live band. This is a damn good album from a band that is showing a stamina usually unseen in these part of the interweb.

Vampire Weekend – Step

Other recent albums that have been on rotation:
Alice Smith – She, Altar of Plagues – Teethed Glory and Injury, Amon Amarth – Deceiver of the Gods, Arckanum – Fenris Kindir, Arsis – Unwelcome, Bass Drum of Death – Bass Drum of Death, Baths – Obsidian, The Black Heart Rebellion – Har Nevo, Black Sabbath – 13, Bosnian Rainbows – Bosnian Rainbows, Case Studies – This Is Another Life, Dark Tranquillity – Construct, Date Palms – The Dusted Sessions, Daughter – If You Leave, Eleanor Friedberger – Personal Record, Entropia – Vesper, James Blake – Overgrown, John Moreland – In the Throes, Jon Hopkins – Immunity, Kalmah – Seventh Swamphony, The Knife – Shaking the Habitual, Kylesa – Ultraviolet, Leprous – Coal, Liar in Wait – Translations Of the Lost, Lilacs & Champagne – Danish & Blue, Lucero – Texas & Tennessee, Lychgate- Lychgate, MS MR – Secondhand Rapture, Mykki Blano – Betty Rubble: The Initiation, Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators – Tortured Soul, The Ocean – Pelagial, Pharmakon – Abandon, Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork, Sannhet – Known Flood, Sonic Reign – Monument in Black, Summoning – Old Mornings Dawn, SZA – S,  Thaw – Thaw, Todtgelichter – Apnoe, Uncle Leon and the Alibis – Wild Ways, Various Artists – After Dark 2, The Veils – Time Stays, We Go, Vhöl – Vhöl, Volbeat – Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies, Woe – Withdrawal, The World Is A Beautiful Place &  I Am No Longer Afraid To De – Whenever, If Ever.

Thanks for taking the time.  Hopefully you picked up something new — something you wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.  Please share anything you think I might have missed.

– Martini

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Best of Q2 2013