Anyone who reads my list of favorite records knows I’m an old punk who over the years has drifted into psychedelic and acid rock, and there is no turning back for me. To me, all music should be psychedelic: if it doesn’t alter the mind, then what’s the point? Why would I want to listen to something that only adds to life’s misery? Why not listen to something that pulls you out of it?
Here’s my list.
AL LOVER – SACRED DRUGS
It takes a special, selfless person to make music that accommodates the universal need for mindless escapism – or what I call, oblivion. Lover makes music he wants to hear when he wants to leave this world, and thereby creates the same escape for you and me.
ANDY STOTT – FAITH IN STRANGERS
Stott creates the perfect music for mundane train rides through bleak scenery. Ruthlessly numbing, it functions as repetitious ear massage that collides wonderfully with trash, broken rocks, murky puddles. He makes music for cold souls moving methodically toward their next destination – making the grim visions around you more palatable. Listening to Stott, while looking out a moving window in Philly – a discarded diaper takes horrifying meaning (especially if it’s yours)
ARIEL PINK – POM POM
He’s been compared to Zappa, which isn’t fair, because Zappa seemed more interested in potty humor than pop majesty. Pinks greatness is in the songs themselves – manicured nuggets of pop vomit that he presents to you like a housecat offering you a freshly caught dead bird. Every song on this album moves you, but “Picture Me Gone” is his masterpiece. He’s not a misunderstood genius -he’s just a brilliant artist who’s operating on a different level, and waiting for you to catch up. And, sorry Grimes, he’s right about Madonna. It’s not misogynistic to criticize a legendary female pop singer, it’s misogynistic to think a legendary female pop singer can’t handle it.
BLACK BANANAS – ELECTRIC BRICK WALL
A joyously drugged out version of Def Leppard fronted by an alluring mess of a girl who combines the reckless charm of the Screaming Blue Messiahs with glorious heavy metal hooks. The former frontwoman from Royal Trux runs the show, and she knows riffs better than any pimply faced long hair doomfreak in black jeans. “Poweder 8 Eeeeeeeeight” is the hard rock song of the year. “Hey Rockin” isn’t far behind. Seriously – this is Van Halen if they did too many drugs and forgot half the lyrics. Side note: perhaps the best moment in 2013 for music is the last 45 seconds of “Earthquake.”
THE BUG – ANGEL AND DEVILS
A dark record that should accompany every drug buy – it’s great for a cold walk through an empty park when you hope the guy approaching you isn’t a cop. A record that is both frigid and warm – like a toilet in a door-less stall you have little choice in using. A plea: ITunes, please sell the Bug collaboration with Earth. If you haven’t heard it, you can find it on a thing called you tube.
DEVIN TOWNSEND – CASUALTIES OF COOL
Another ridiculously addictive collection of perfectly crafted noise from an immensely talented goliath. What kills me about Devin – most of everything you listen to from some other artist -Devin likely did a year before. Which is why, I think, he continually keeps pushing forward into new places – just to see who follows.
ELECTRIC WIZARD – TIME TO DIE
A band that offers a chugging soundtrack to Satanism, suicide, death, and whatever else stinks of doom – EW is a pleasurable evil that undermines its own definition of evil. The discipline required for arresting songs like Sadiowitch cannot exist if you’re that rotten. It feels as comfy as an old Judas Priest concert shirt, back when only lonely pale people wore them.
FLOOR – OBLATION
Heavier than one of those sad men airlifted from his bed, this is pure, clean doom metal fronted by the guy (steve) from Torche. The same way that hawks are the only ones you trust to create peace in a fucked up world, I only trust my pop from the darkest of doom.
I BREAK HORSES – CHIAROSCURO
Shoegaze Abba – it’s arresting, melodic, hypnotic stuff – each song a sugar cube for your ears. I’m not sure why this band isn’t huge. They’re from Sweden, so they probably don’t care either way.
JOEL GION – APPLE BONKERS
I love Brian Jonestown Massacre, despite the fact that the lead singer is an asshole (I know from personal experience). But Gion, a member of BJM – has released a psychedelic masterpiece, making me think that BJM existed not because of Anton, but in spite of him. Do me a favor, and listen to the first song off this record (“Yes”), and then tell me you don’t love them. You can’t. Then listen to the next song (“Smile”), and tell me you’re not happy. You can’t.
MAC DEMARCO – SALAD DAYS
My pal from Torche recommended this record, and what a pleasurable platter of mellow joy it is. IT’s what you listen to when you want to forget about stuff. It’s sweatpants for your face -if something like that would indeed exist.
MELVINS – HOLD IT IN
More of the same, but “same-ner.” If you know the Melvins, you understand. Hard, heavy, brutal, relentless, joyously joyless. The song, “brass cupcake” won’t change the world, but it will make you shit your pants. More melody, more riffs, more Melvins. They should be zillionaires at this point, but the fact that they aren’t should inspire rioting. Or perhaps, overeating.
SLEEPY SUN – MAUI TEARS
A great majestic psych record that earns your listen for one very simple reason: Rolling Stone gave it a shitty review. The same way they panned Nirvana and U2. As always, the great bands get missed by the dicks. Sleepy Sun has arena potential, which Rolling Stone will “suddenly” discover, when Sleepy Sun are playing arenas. Which raises the question: Rolling Stone – seriously, when have they EVER discovered a band?
TEMPLES – SUN STRUCTURES
They sound like a Tame Impala tribute band, except that they write their own songs (which mostly sound like Tame Impala) and the songs are super-arresting (just like Tame Impala). If this band were a drink it would be a double Tame Impala with an XTC floater. If I were Tame Impala I would be like, “dude, what’s up?” Temples are to Tame Impala what the Cult was to AC/DC (post Rick Rubin). But damn, they’re great (just like the Cult)
THE HORRORS – LUMINOUS
Perhaps the album of the year. “So now you know” is total song perfection. I’m old, and music like this perhaps unearths the memories of the 1980s (the Horrors feel like a better version of the Simple Minds sodomizing a half-awake Echo and the Bunnyman). But I’m thinking, it’s not nostalgic at all – because it’s so good it makes me unable to enjoy it in a nostalgic fashion. I just envy those who now listen to this the way I listened to the same shit on the way to Santa Cruz 30 years ago.
THE OH SEES – DROP
Imagine if there were a group of guys who go to work each day and make stuff. – and that stuff is brain-melting psychedelia. That’s these lads. Generally I don’t bother trying to keep up with prolific bands – but The Oh Sees demand it. They put out more music in a year than most bands do in a career. And it’s all good, as a drunk trucker might say.
TILTS – CUATRO HOMBRES
Melodic hard rock blended with glam vocals – imagine T-Rex fronting Steppenwolf, and you have Tilts. Perfect sound, perfect songs – the recipe for a band that’s criminally overlooked, but shouldn’t be. Which is why, I guess, it’s criminal.
TOBACCO – ULTIMA II MASSAGE
The problem with this record – on its own, it’s pretty scary and great. But it’s hard to embrace after Tobacco’s “Maniac Meat,” which might be the best pop album of the last 15 years. I want you to purchase Ultima Massage, but I’d rather you go back and get Maniac Meat, because that album is the one really matters. No one will admit it, but Tobacco is being ripped off by everyone. (Note: Maniac Meat shows up a lot on Mike Judge’s new series Silicon Valley. This is why Judge is a great person).
TODD TERJE – ITS ALBUM TIME
Good drinking music, or rather music good drinking. It’s something you should have around if you need to lighten a mood (ideal for funerals), and purely original in its upbeat weirdness to warrant repeat listenings in a hot tub with scared neighbors.
TY SEGALL – MANIPULATOR
A cleaned up version of the normal fare you’d get from rock’s savior. I couldn’t stand it when I heard it at first – too slick – then it grew on me like a hypnotic mold. A perfect record: Every song has an irresistible hook, and a delightful chorus. He is the manipulator. We are the manipulated. And so on, whatever. I hope he continues with this music thing.
WHITE FENCE – THE RECENTLY FOUND
A perfect album from another era – filled with gut-wrenching melodies and face-melting hooks. If you do not love this, you’re probably a member of ISIS. Contains the song of the year, “Arrowman,” which possesses a chord change that brings more happiness to my brain cells than ten hits of ecstasy. Not that I know. Etc.