My Favorite Albums of 2018

Music did so much to get me through 2018… here are my favorite new albums and my favorite vinyl re-issues of the year.

NEW:


RE-ISSUES:





NEW ALBUMS:

THE FUTURE AND THE PAST by By Natalie Prass

AURORA by Slow Crush

TWIN FANTASY (MIRROR TO MIRROR) by Car Seat Headrest (a re-issue of sorts, a re-imagining of sorts)

LUSH by Snail Mail

FUTURE ME HATES ME by The Beths

MAKE MY BED by King Princess

INDIGO by Wild Nothing

AMERICAN UTOPIA by David Byrne

A POEM UNLIMITED by U.S. Girls

BAD WITCH by Nine Inch Nails (also, best concert of the year, hands down)

DANCE ON THE BLACKTOP by Nothing


RE-ISSUES:

AMBIENT 1: MUSIC FOR AIRPORTS by Brian Eno (Half-speed mastering- incredible)

154 by Wire

ISN’T ANYTHING by My Bloody Valentine (analogue)

LOVELESS by My Bloody Valentine (analogue)

MANOS by The Spinanes


My MVP of 2018, the album I listened to more than any other (and it wasn’t even close)…

THE DEMONSTRATION by Drab Majesty (2017)



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My Favorite Movies of 2017

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Film Title: Get Out

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2017 Big Screen only (despite seeing some of these in 2016). This is a list of images and is in no order other than the feeling the sequence creates for me.

Caveat: Due to work/ timing, I don’t see a ton of autumn/ award season releases. Alas.
Caveat 2: Still need to see PHANTOM THREAD!!!!

My Favorite Albums of 2017


  1. NOTHING FEELS NATURAL by Priests
  2. MASSEDUCTION by St. Vincent
  3. ANTISOCIALITES by Alvvays
  4. MOLTEN YOUNG LOVERS by Airiel
  5. KEN by Destroyer
  6. SAVAGE YOUNG DU by Hüsker Dü
  7. LOSING by Bully
  8. MELODRAMA by Lorde
  9. IN THE DARKNESS OF MY NIGHT by Sunshine & The Rain
  10. NOT EVEN HAPPINESS by Julie Byrne
  11. AMERICAN DREAM by LCD Soundsystem
  12. SATURN OVER SUNSET by Midnight Sister
  13. UTOPIA by Björk

 

Special MVP award to STARBOY by The Weeknd, which came out in November 2016, but DOMINATED my 2017!

 

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My Favorite Albums of 2016

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My Favorite Movies of 2016

moonlight

toni-erdmann

the-witch

kate-plays-christine

kubo

sunset-song

the-fits

louder-than-bombs

the-invitation

El Último Dragón

tower

MBTS_1545.CR2

i-am-not-your-negro

always-shine

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my-golden-days

certain-women

under-the-shadow

evolution

green-room

little-men

mountains-may-depart

things-to-come

newtown

operation-avalanche

city-of-gold

weiner

cameraperson

oj-made-in-america

2016 Theatrical releases only. This is a list of images and is no order other than the feeling the sequence creates for me. Caveat: Due to work/ timing, I don’t see a ton of autumn/ award season releases. Alas.

USE A TELESCOPE FROM YESTERDAY TO SEE TODAY

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Who knew that, when Radiohead released A MOON SHAPED POOL on May 8, 2016, they were staring down November 9, 2016 through a terrifyingly precise lens? A time machine? Here is the record in sequence. Read it. Not sure I’ve ever seen anything more prescient. Leave it to the artists…

**

Stay in the shadows
Cheer at the gallows
This is a round up
This is a low flying panic attack
Sing the song on the jukebox that goes
Burn the witch
Burn the witch
We know where you live

Red crosses on wooden doors
If you float you burn
Loose talk around the tables
Abandon all reason
Avoid all eye contact
Do not react
Shoot the messengers
This is a low flying panic attack
Sing the song of sixpence that goes

Burn the witch
Burn the witch
We know where you live
We know where you live
**

Dreamers
They never learn
They never learn
Beyond the point
Of no return
Of no return
Then it’s too late
The damage is done
The damage is done

This goes
Beyond me
Beyond you
A white room
By a window
Where the sun comes
Through
We are
Just happy to serve
Just happy to serve
You
Half of my life
Half of my life
**

Then into your life, there comes a darkness
There’s a spacecraft blocking out the sky
And there’s nowhere to hide
You run to the back and you cover your ears
But it’s the loudest sound you’ve ever heard
And all we trapped rag doll cloth people
We are helpless to resist
Into our darkest hour

But it was just a laugh, just a laugh
Just a laugh, just a laugh
Even at this angle
And so we crumble
A ten ton head, made of wet sand
Oh this dread circumference
You’ve gotta be kidding me
The grass grows over me
Your face in the glass, in the glass
It was just a laugh, just a laugh
It’s whatever you say it is
In split infinities

Then into your life, there comes a darkness
And a spacecraft blocking out the sky
And there’s nowhere to hide
You run to the back and you cover your ears
But it’s the loudest sound you’ve ever heard
Into your darkest hour

When you’ve had enough of me
When you’ve had enough of me
Sweet times
When you’ve had enough of me
When you’ve had enough of me
Sweet darling
Sweet times
Sweet times
Sweet times
**

Now as I go upon my way
So let me go upon my way
Born of a light
Born of a light
The wind rushing round my open heart
An open ravine
With my spirit light
Totally alive
And my spirit light
Through an open doorway
Across a street
To another life
And catching my reflection in a window
Switching on a light
One I didn’t know
Totally alive
Totally released

Waking, waking up from shutdown
From a thousand years of sleep
Yeah you, you know what I mean
You know what I mean
You know what I mean
Standing on the edge of
Yeah, you know what I mean
You know what I mean
You know what I mean

Different types of love
Different types of love
Different types of love
Are possible
Are possible
Are possible
Are possible
**

Now as I go upon my way
So let me go upon my way
Born of a light
Born of a light
The wind rushing round my open heart
An open ravine
With my spirit light
Totally alive
And my spirit light
Through an open doorway
Across a street
To another life
And catching my reflection in a window
Switching on a light
One I didn’t know
Totally alive
Totally released

Waking, waking up from shutdown
From a thousand years of sleep
Yeah you, you know what I mean
You know what I mean
You know what I mean
Standing on the edge of
Yeah, you know what I mean
You know what I mean
You know what I mean

Different types of love
Different types of love
Different types of love
Are possible
Are possible
Are possible
Are possible
**

Hey it’s me
I-I just got off the train
A frightening place
The faces are concrete grey
And I’m wondering, should I turn round?
Buy another ticket?
The panic is coming on strong
So cold, from the inside out
No great drama
Message coming in
In the oh-so-smug
Glassy eyed light of day
Glassy eyed light of day

Where the path trails off and heads down the mountain
Through the dry bush
I don’t know where it leads
And I don’t really care
Where the path trails off and heads down the mountain
Through the dry bush
I don’t know where it leads
And I don’t really care

I feel this love to the core
I feel this love to the core
**

A moon shaped pool
Dancing clothes won’t let me in
And now I know it’s never gonna be oh me

The sweet-faced ones with nothing left inside
That we all can love, that we all can love, that we all can
Sweet-faced ones with nothing left inside
That we all can love, that we all can love, that we all can

But now I see you messing me around
I don’t want to know, I don’t want to know, I don’t want
When I see you messing me around?
I don’t want to know, I don’t want to know, I don’t want to know

Broken hearts make it rain, broken hearts make it rain
Broken hearts make it rain, broken hearts make it rain
Broken hearts make it rain, broken hearts make it rain
Broken hearts make it rain, broken hearts make it rain
Broken hearts make it rain
Broken hearts
Broken hearts make it rain, broken hearts make it rain
Broken hearts make it rain, broken hearts make it rain
Broken hearts make it rain, broken hearts make it rain
Broken hearts make it rain, broken hearts make it rain

The pieces of a ragdoll mankind
That we can create, that we can create, that we can
Pieces of a ragdoll mankind
That we can create, that we can create

But when I see you messing me around
I don’t want to know, I don’t want to know, I don’t want
Now I see you messing me around
I don’t want to know, I don’t want to know, I don’t want to know
**

It holds us like a phantom
It touches like a breeze
It shines its understanding
See the moon is smiling
Open on all channels
Ready to receive
Cause we’re not at the mercy
Of your chimeras and spells
Your chimeras and spells
Mmmhm
We are of the earth
To her we do return
The future is inside us
It’s not somewhere else
It’s not somewhere else
It’s not somewhere else

(One day at a time)
One day at a time

We call upon the people
The people have this power
The numbers don’t decide
The system is a lie
A river running dry
The wings of butterflies
And you may pour us away like soup
Like we’re pretty broken flowers
We’ll take back what is ours
Take back what is ours

One day at a time
**

This dance
This dance
Is like a weapon
Is like a weapon
Of self defence
Of self defence
Against the present
Against the present
Present tense
No I won’t get heavy
No don’t get heavy
Keep it light and
Keep it moving
I am doing
No harm
As my world
Comes crashing down
I’ll be dancing
Freaking out
Deaf, dumb, and blind

In you I’m lost
In you I’m lost

I won’t turn around
Or the penny drops
Won’t stop now
Won’t slack off
Or all this love
Will be in vain
To stop from falling
Down a mine
It’s no one’s business
But mine
Where all this love
Has been in vain

In you I’m lost
In you I’m lost
In you I’m lost
In you I’m lost
**

All the holes
At once
Are coming alive
Set free
Out of sight
And out of mind
The lonely and their prey

The ones you light your fires to keep away
Is crawling out upon its belly
And all you have to do is say yes

All the birds
Stay up
In the trees
All the fish
Swim down to the deep
The lonely and their prey
I am here
Come to me
Before it’s too late

The one you light your fires to keep away
Is crawling out upon its belly
And all you have to do is say yes
**

I’ll drown my beliefs
To have your babies
I’ll dress like your niece
And wash your swollen feet

Just don’t leave
Don’t leave

I’m not living
I’m just killing time
Your tiny hands
Your crazy kitten smile

Just don’t leave
Don’t leave

And true love waits
In haunted attics
And true love lives
On lollipops and crisps

Just don’t leave
Don’t leave

A LIGHTNING BOLT FROM THE SKY

Decades ago, let’s say the summer of 1981, maybe (?), I listened to a record with my step-brother on the turntable at my grandpa’s house on Higgins Lake, back home in Michigan. We played it a few times and, being 10 years old or so, I was TERRIFIED of it. It was a horror record, I remember, its cover was black and white, had small pictures of monsters on it, and the record had clips from a radio show or play or movie in between these strangely poppy songs and it just FREAKED ME OUT.

This record has stayed with me for years, despite having NO IDEA what it was. Those childhood memories that are now almost etherial– did this even exist? Is my memory of it EVEN CLOSE to the actual thing? I reach for the picture of the album in my head, but it is blended with old VHS horror movie cases (the original ZOMBIE? THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN?) and mixed in with my imagination and maybe some dreams and probably the thing itself, and that mental picture? It’s not even close.

Since the mid 1990’s, when, for some reason, I was reminded of it somehow, I have been OBSESSED with figuring out this mystery by remembering it or finding an answer. Before my grandmother died, I asked her if she had any memory of such a thing (no), did she keep the albums from the lake house (no), did my dad keep the record (no), did anyone remember this record (no)? Once in a while, the memory cycles around again and I think “Oh yeah, what WAS that?” and then it goes away again for a while. Usually, when I am making a mix of Halloween songs, I’m reminded again, and I am dying to figure it out, and so last week, listening to Halloween songs, I was haunted again by this unknowable thing and again, it remained unknown.

Have I conveyed how much I wanted to remember this record? Not remembering this record literally drove me crazy for DECADES and, with no information to go on, was an unsolvable mystery. My younger self could not give me a drop of information on which to go. Like searching in the dark for something, a specific thing, you’re not sure what it is, but you know it exists. Maybe.

So yesterday, I was in Athens, GA and I made my mandatory trip to Wuxtry Records on my way out of town. I spent like 45 minutes digging through crates and just reveling in being at such an amazing record store again, which brought its own memories flooding back, and as I usually do, I started flipping through the film soundtracks. They were on the floor, tucked tightly into a few crates in the back of the store, and so I got on my hands and knees and was loving the selections, remembering the movies. There are a few I always look for on vinyl and one of them is the original SUSPIRIA soundtrack by Goblin- I have the CD, but it is one I would love to own on vinyl. So, I am flipping through the “S” soundtracks and, truly, a LIGHTNING BOLT FROM THE SKY STRUCK ME.

There, in ‘S’ the crate, sat a record. I flipped past it, noticed the artist (who I love) as it flicked by, and flipped back to it. I stared for a second because I do like the artist, had just looked under his name in the “rock and roll” section and did not see this record in there. It looked weird and why was it in film soundtracks? Oh right, this movie was awful. Ha.

And then, suddenly, I had a complete sense of deja vu looking at the cover. It was jet black with a black and white photo of a bearded vampire. It was a horror record. It listed the artists and song titles, and had another black and white photo on the back of a graveyard. And then, suddenly, I just had a feeling that THIS WAS IT but I wasn’t sure because it didn’t match up with that hazy, obsessive memory I had been desperately trying to reconstruct in my head. But I was almost certain. I stared at it in the crate for a beat and could feel that my heart was racing. I pulled it, tucked it under my arm, and kept browsing but was completely distracted by the possibility that I just, somehow, 35 years later, found this record I had been looking for all my life. Of course, I bought it.

I also immediately understood why my 10 year-old self would have found it so strange because, at that time, I had absolutely no frame of reference for the music of Harry Nilsson. I didn’t get the camp aspect of it at all– I was too young, I didn’t know the Hammer films yet– all I knew was the record, completely out of context. When I got to the airport, I opened the sleeve and there, folding out on the front cover like a vampire’s cape, was a gatefold of all of the black and white pictures of monsters, and I knew for certain this was it. All of those fragmentary memories were replaced instantly by the reality of the thing staring me in the face and the memory and the reality merged and I knew I had found it. I texted my step-brother and suddenly he remembered it as well and sent me a link to the YouTube video of the song we had played incessantly that summer. When I got home to Brooklyn, I opened the record up and inside was the album and the original iron-on T-Shirt decal that came with it (!!!).

The record is the soundtrack to SON OF DRACULA with songs by Harry Nilsson (and Ringo Starr) and Paul Buckmaster, who did the score. It came out in 1974, when I was three years old. It has been re-issued, but my copy is an original with the gatefold of images folding out from the cape. It has clips of the film in-between the songs. It is the soundtrack to one of the (best) worst movies of all time. Why my grandfather had this record at his lake house in the early 1980’s will remain an unknowable mystery.

… and THAT is just one reason why I love taking my time at record stores.

DAYBREAK, The Song We Played Obsessively:

The Cover:
son-of-dracula-lp

The Vampire Cape Gatefold:
sonofdracula_inside

The Back Cover:
lp-son-of-dracula-back

The Iron-On Decal:
unknown

The Label, A Pun On Apple Records:
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The Terror Of Loving College Football

This is how I experience it.

Sport, generally speaking, is so popular because it is a unique form of storytelling. It is an objective narrative that resolves itself for each viewer in an incredibly subjective way. There is a winner and a loser, but there is also backstory, history, performance, criticism, and there is the story sport tells us which is inherently terrifying. The is incredibly immersive; the team is “we” and “us”, or at least it feels that way, but “we” have no control over the outcome. The fan is a protagonist of the story, but the individual fan’s position in the narrative is unknowable, private, filled with inexpressible passions, memories, traditions, and mostly, fear. Fear that your hopes, your dreams, will somehow slip through your fingers. That disaster will strike. That your antagonists– your neighbors, your in-laws, your best friends from grade school—- will better you. The story only has one ideal ending, a championship, but only one set of fans get to experience it each year. And when the next year arrives, the narrative renews itself again, with another year of experience, of history, with new players in a new context, everything shifts again, and you’re terrified again. And there is always a next year.

College football is, for me, the American sport that best exemplifies this relentless narrative. It is the most unforgiving major sport. In the NFL, you can lose four or five games and be a great team and win the title. Baseball? If you lose 62 games, it was a great season. Basketball? Lose 20 of your games and you’re probably in the hunt. And all of them have multi-round playoffs that allow teams to grow into the season, get hot on a playoff run, and have a chance. College football? One loss and you’re probably on the outside looking in on the possibility of winning it all. Two losses? Forget it. And when you, like me, love a team like I love The University of Michigan football team, history and expectation and hope and terror all co-exist with a decade of massive underachievement that has seen our rivals simultaneously thrive with excellent year after excellent year, and you know the narrative: ultimately, the thing we want only happens for one team, and likely, that team is not us. Something will happen, something unexpected, something dreaded, and likely, it will happen to us. To Michigan football. To me.

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The structure of this story, and my place as a fan inside of it, is the story of an endlessly renewable hope that is annually, suddenly, often unexpectedly, extinguished. Michigan’s only national championship of my entire life, cemented in the 1998 Rose Bowl, was one of the two best sports days of my life (the 2005 Champions League Final being the other). Otherwise, the question is usually not if disappointment will happen, but just how cruelly it will happen and when. I enrolled at Michigan in 1989. I watched the team for years before that, but let’s draw a line there (so that I don’t have to remember Michigan blowing a huge 4th Quarter lead against Miami at home). Expectations are high for Michigan football in 2016. Here is the story of how you properly temper those expectations.



1989. My first Michigan home game as a college student.


1990. Ranked #1. No pass interference call on a 2 point conversion against MSU to win.



1994.




2001. Ranked #6. “Clockgate” against MSU. Longest “one second” in history.


2006. #1 vs #2. It’s there for the taking. Helmet to helmet on Crable and we lose.



_____________

I’d like to draw a line here, because this is the beginning of a decade in the wilderness. This has been the worst decade of Michigan fandom I have ever experienced. These last ten years have re-calibrated my levels of suffering. Ohio State has stayed the course, Michigan State has risen, and Michigan spent a lost ten years unable to figure out who the hell they are supposed to be. It has been a disastrous decade.

2007. Appalachian State. A D-II school. This is the first game after the 2006 game vs Ohio State and a loss to USC in the Rose Bowl.






2008. Loss to Toledo. Toledo. A year after losing to Appalachian State. Rich Rod era. I can’t bear to look at any more than this.



2013. Clowney ends the Outback Bowl.






2014. Shane Morris Concussed and left in the game which, at the time of the injury, saw Michigan losing 30-7 to Minnesota. Minnesota. This is the death knell of the Hoke era which, again, I can’t bear to watch any more.




All of this takes its toll on your confidence, erases all certainty, puts you in everlasting fear of the worst thing happening which, as you can see, often does. Like last year.






I actually looked at my wife when we set up to punt and said “We’re going to lose this game.” That is what fandom does to you. You learn that if you expect the worst, and it happens, you can buffer things for a moment. But only a moment. It is still just pure brutality. You learn that 112,000 people all screaming in unison, trying to bend history to their will, cannot change anything.

If Michigan football were simply a legacy of pain, I couldn’t bear to watch any more. Certainly, there are huge swaths of great joy in this same timeframe, but the heartbreak sticks and, for me, it is how I frame my own expectations, where I place myself in the narrative. This is the “me” in Michigan football. No swagger, no arrogance, every single hope tempered by that needle in my spine reminding me of the hurt to come. There is a straw man that rival fans have built that they feel embodies Michigan fans- entitled, delusional, arrogant. The people who make that argument don’t have an inkling of who I am.

Every year, the pain comes to every team but one. Every year, a moment of madness becomes an irredeemable loss. This is why, when something like Charles Woodson in 1997 comes along, it seems like a mirage, an impossibility. Did it happen? Did I experience it? Did we win a National Championship? How?



_____________

In 2016, expectations are high for Michigan football. Lots of chatter. Talk on social media. Great coach with something to prove and no titles at any level. Love him or hate him. Hype. Possibility.

But I can’t help but look down the years, through my own experience, and I know what is more likely than not. And yet and still, I can’t wait for it all to start. I can’t wait to secretly, quietly, hope. To find myself in that hope even though the overwhelming odds are that disappointment is coming. There will be moments when I can’t look. Or maybe something magic happens. And, despite history, despite the odds, despite everything I know about Michigan football, despite myself, I can’t wait.

Go Blue

Nov 14, 2015; Bloomington, IN, USA; Michigan Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh leads his team onto the field before the game against the Indiana Hoosiers  at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 14, 2015; Bloomington, IN, USA; Michigan Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh leads his team onto the field before the game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

My Favorite Movies Of The 21st Century (So Far), 2001-2016

The BBC has asked actual film critics to weigh in with a list of “The Best Films of The 21st Century” and while I am not an actual film critic, I thought it was a fun opportunity to look back on the films that have endured for me since 2001… this is a very personal list and the only thing it reflects is my own connection to certain films that I cannot get out of my head…

TOP TEN

Mulholand drive

4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days 2

Lintrus


lenfant1


Rois-Et-Reine

Climates

pianoteacher

zodiac

no-country-for-old-men-3

there will be blood

Résonance Personnelle (Alpha)

aurora

Bamako

Cache-1

Dogtooth

everyelsrev

Flight Of The Red Balloon

GoodbyeFirstLove.1

margaret09

Summer Hours

two-lovers-2008-3-g

What Time Is It There

My Favorite Movies of 2015

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stinking_heaven

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queen-of-earth

005-mommy-theredlist

victoria-2015-2

video-kumiko-the-treasure-hunter-bunzos-choice-videoSixteenByNine1050

KS

carol_0

Rey-Star-Wars-Episode-7-Force-Awakens

1401x788-Seymour-An-Introduction-

Call-Me-Lucky-2015-Wallpapers

150713_MOV_TheLookofSilence.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2

marlon-clip-superJumbo

Creed Movie Film Trailers Reviews Movieholic Hub

primary_Entertainment-Gregg-2015

spotlight-mv-14

talking-tangerine-with-filmmaker-sean-baker-body-image-1436629407.png

eden

01BUZZARD1-facebookJumbo-v2

1439473644221

Time-4

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Theatrical releases only. Caveat: Due to work/ timing, I don’t see a ton of award season releases. Alas.