December 1, 2018

QC10 - Jesse's Top 15 Albums from 2008-2017

Editor's Note: After 10 years of submitting top 10 lists, frequent contributors are going back and picking out the albums that they still love.

Kelli Schaefer – No Identity (2017)
As if Led Zeppelin was led by art school feminists studying how to absolutely shred. Or something. Silliness aside, touchstones are more like Nick Cave and PJ Harvey. They are transcendent live.

Japandroids – Celebration Rock (2012)
I can practically smell the sour beer, cigarettes & pepperoni as I crank it up again and again.

Divers - Hello Hello (2015)
It’s embarrassing, but this was just the first of three Party Damage Records on my list that year. No label ever dominated my record player like this since I first discovered STAX.  Rough and passionate, Divers mix heartland punk and slow burning indie rock.

Battleme - Future Runs Magnetic (2013/2014)
It wasn’t even a contest this year. After being blown away live, these songs kept those moments fresh on my stereo, again and again.

Radiation City – Synesthetica (2016)
Fully realizing their breathtaking potential as they imploded personally. So many layers of art pop awesomeness.

Frightened Rabbit – The Winter Of Mixed Drinks (2010)
Their mastery of celebratory self-loathing is peerless.  Scott Hutchison’s death this year cut deep for so many reasons.
Portugal. The Man - Evil Friends (2013)
Long-time favorite keeps the streak alive. With each stylistic shift I love them even more. One of four albums that made my annual top 10.

Deathlist – Deathlist EP (2016)
A personal & potent EP from Portland’s busy renaissance bassist. Listened to this EP a ton. She is consistently creating and collaborating on many of my favorite songs each year.       

Waves of Fury – Thirst (2012)
Does it get better than blaring horns over blasted vocals? No. Some of wildest, best, careening off-the-brink garage soul-punk you can imagine.

Lucero - 1372 Overton Park (2009)
It's the perfect mix of Memphis horns, country grit, and rock n' roll.

Benjamin Booker - Benjamin Booker (2014)
Although not written about this year’s civil rights struggles, they could be. I hear the same anger, frustration, and confusion resonate in his soulful garage rock.

Hockey - Mind Chaos (2008/2009)
They perfectly combine my love of gritty soulful vocals, funky baselines, and indie rock. In small way, we may have even contributed to breaking this band.

Sheer Mag – I, II, III EPs (2015/2016)
The blownout lo-fi might deter some, but to me it sounds like that hidden gem on a friend’s overdubbed radio mixtape. Cranking up this album makes any day feel like Friday night and every beer taste like a High Life. Thanks Larson!

The Autonomics - Debt Sounds (2017)
Ignore the Saturday morning Snapchat cover, this is road-honed, pogoinducing, virile rock n roll.

Jay Reatard – Watch Me Fall (2009)

Paranoid, dark, and gleeful. This may be more melodic, but it's far from mellow. Loved all his albums. Always shifting, I wonder what he would have come up with next. Another painful loss.

November 28, 2018

QC10 – Rain's Top 10 Albums from 2008 to 2017

Editor's Note: After 10 years of submitting top 10 lists, frequent contributors are going back and picking out the albums that they still love.

1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away (2013)

2. Chelsea Wolfe - Abyss (2017)
More magick to bless/curse us invoked by the Witch of the Sacramento River.

3. Jozef Van Wissem & SQÜRL - Only Lovers Left Alive OST (2014)
The soundtrack to a film but also the soundtrack to many nights of me falling asleep in the dead center of a hardwood floor, beneath red Christmas lights, and with a bully full of whatever.

4. Black Moth Super Rainbow - Eating Us (2012)
This is another album that reminds me of simpler times (and I'm not talking about the delicious bargain Trader Joes beer). I saw a animated version of Jack and the Beanstalk at the Winchester Drive- In theater (gone since the mid eightees to make way for now failed dot com startup box buildings). There were these mice and they sang and listening to this, I am right back there, in the way way back of the stationwagon, drinking hot chocolate and having no idea about the dangers of pit bulls, avian bird flu or any sense of responsibility.

5. Mohammad - Som Sakrifis (2013)

6. Fartbarf - Dirty Power (2014)
Get away from that Moog, you damn dirty apes! No, seriously, you really need to see these guys live (or, at the very least, look up live footage on Youtube). You'll be so glad you did and your world will be changed and better for it...

7. Hildur Guðnadóttir - Saman (2014)
Please let me die beneath Hildur's icy fists.

8. The Caretaker - An Empty Bliss Beyond This World (2016)
"You've always been the caretaker. I should know, sir." Know this: The Caretaker creates imagined soundtracks for the ballroom in The Shining. It's spooky and lovely.

9. Perfume Genius - No Shape (2017)
This record makes me see another reality in which I'm not a content man, married for 20+ years to my "soulmate". In that other reality, I'd have a heart/soul rending crush that clearly would never pan out and I'd pine and cry while listening to this album.

9a. The Budos Band - Burnt Offering (2014)
This just makes me want to get all of my bros together and have a sweaty, tequila driven, tighty whitey dance party until the sun comes up. Then, in the light of a new day, we go to the sea and kill a turtle and roast its flesh black over a pallet fire. What happens next must never be spoken of...

10. Bohren & der Club of Gore - Piano Nights (2014)

Lynchian Doom Jazz.

March 24, 2018

Rain's 1st Quarter of 2018's Shining Gems

Jonny Greenwood's OST for Phantom Thread

"Onion" by Oakland's Shannon and the Clams is my pre-summer feel good album.

"The Hands" by Fire! sets a good dark jazz atmosphere. Don't know what it is about me lately but the "dark jazz" really gets me...

"Hades" by Constantine is some moody sit in the dark music.

As is "Alter" by Otto Lindholm (which is my favourite album of the year so far). Deep drone-y double bass haunted house shit...

The Various Artists compilation "In Death's Dream Kingdom" is just what you'd expect and I dig it...

...and GODDAMN, the new Yo La Tengo album "There's A Riot Going On" brings back the mellow Yo La Tengo that I fell in love with many years ago. Some banal lyric writing but that's forgivable...


On the cusp: Mount Eerie's "Now Only" but it's too much like Mount Eerie and not enough new and I find myself listening to it in the same way that I'll mindlessly eat an entire bag of Annie's cheddar bunnies without taking any pleasure from the act...


Big Disappointment: "All Nerve" by the Breeders. A few seconds of that old familiar hooky sound in an hour of chasing the ghost. Walk away, Kim. Walk away...

February 18, 2018

Early 2018 Favorites

Seems kind of crazy to post a list not even two months into the new year, but fuck it, the world may explode tomorrow, so I better get down my thoughts now.

Albums I turn to when I get pissed off reading the news (so pretty much every day):

Jeff Rosenstock - POST-
Oh man, "USA" is a sprawling, kitchen sink punk epic that just slays in its messy brilliance.

Superchunk - What A Time To Be Alive
Delivering on the promise of last year's political daggers, this album captures where my head's at these days. Practically on daily rotation. 

And And And - Idiot
Their last album, The Failure, struck a chord with me in my life at the time. Only a couple days into this album but finding plenty of saltiness to love.  

When I need my politics wrapped up in catchy indie pop choruses:

The Spook School - Could It Be Different?
Just try and not sing along to "Fuck You, I'm Still Alive." Then go out and support your local trans org.

Chemtrails - Calf Of The Sacred Cow
Just discovered Chemtrails off an end of year label sampler and fell in love with their previous two psych pop EPs. My Johnny-come-lately status pays off with an album released just weeks later. 

When the world is getting me down, but I just need to chill:

The Orielles - Silver Dollar Moment
Infusing their indie pop tons of clever surprises. Sounds both familiar and unique. 

Beatchild & The Slakadeliqs - Heavy Rockin' Steady
Subtle and buttery hooks from all over place. Throw it on for your own High Fidelity/Beta Band type moment.

Alice Ivy - I'm Dreaming
Avalanches comparisons are fair, but damn if the album doesn't reveal new details to love with each listen. 

January 11, 2018

"Best of 2017" Playlists

Consistent with past years, to spice things up we asked survey takers to submit a song or two that falls under some colorfully entitled category. Those playlists are posted below.

If you have any suggested additions to the playlists, please leave recs in the comments section of this post.

Summer Jammy Jams

Power to the People

Rainy Days and Earle Grey

Dancing the Pain Away

December 31, 2017

QuickCrit's Top 25 Albums of 2017

1. Future Islands - The Far Field

At my core I’m still a scared little boy in a grown man’s body. I’m not sure how I’ve made it this far and I am bewildered when people are either interested in what I say or god-forbid seek my advice. I’m not going to claim to know what Sam Herring is trying to say lyrically on The Far Field. However, I can say that his lyrics have helped me examine my own feelings and emotions. Also the band just seem like the nicest group of guys ever. I have a very short list of people who are allowed to spend the night at our house. Future Islands are on that list. – Larson

The appeal of this band, for me, is almost entirely wrapped up in the visual. Do me a favour. Google any live performance and watch it. Now listen to this album. It's like trying to describe a Constantin Brâncuși sculpture or a painting by Odd Nerdrum using just sound and words. You'd be like "huh?" But, once you see them you can't unsee them and then it RULES listening to them... – Rain

Emotional synth-pop, this album gave me a lot of feelings. – Julia

Sometimes the album feels like you are listening to one long song, but sheeeet, when it hits it really hits! – NightraiN

It's fortunate I like similar sounding songs. – Nesto!

2. The National - Sleep Well Beast

No album that features “Carin at the Liquor Store” will be left off this list, but I’m fairly certain this is the first time in my history that a new National album didn’t land in the #1 spot. I’ll spare you the hand-wringing about my favorite band … for now, but I am curious to see how the songs develop in the live show. – Jeremy

Dark & brooding (with a few exceptions). Just how I like my The National albums. – NightraiN

3. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN

In a world dominated by liars, Kung-Fu Kenny is honest. – Ben 

There’s a popular book these days about not giving a fuck. The concept of reading a book in order to not give a fuck seems a bit odd to me though. Whatever… Whenever I need a refresher on whether or not to give a fuck I listen to “Element” and then “Feel". Then I listen to the whole album from the beginning. – Larson

4. Ryan Adams – Prisoner

I really love this album but it's kinda of a shame that I associate it with Trump's inauguration... Also, Outbound Train sounds like a Whiskeytown b-side and I'm not complaining. – Sharon

This is a relatively tame Ryan Adams, but the songs are extremely well-crafted like his other content and I think reflects a new tone for the long-time rocker. Perhaps he gets some extra points for releasing a "B-Sides" version that has as many or more good songs as the "A-Sides" album. – NightraiN

Love this dude. Amazing live show!! – Larson

5. Alvvays – Antisocalites

Another band on the list who I thought was decent prior to this year's offering turning out a great, great record. – Tex

This alvvays gets me in a good mood. It's pure magic! – Sharon

Plimsoll Punks’ dreamy pop slays me - such sweet disdain.Jesse

Watch their Overrated / Underrated Pitchfork thing. It rules. – Larson

6. Run the Jewels - RTJ 3

I used to have a Sonic Youth poster in my room that had the band standing around a phone pole with a sign that said “Angry. Very Angry.” That was me for a lot of 2017. It’s disheartening to see so many mean people allowed airtime. Thank you EL P and Killer Mike for reminding us to be angry, stay gold and make change. – Larson

Saw them live twice this year, on top of countless, countless dance sessions in the kitchen after happy hour listening to this album. – Tex

7. Matthew Logan Vasquez - Does What He Wants

Delta Spirit's frontman is a funny, talented dude and this album spans the full spectrum from playful electric to touching acoustic. Do yourself a favor and absorb it all now.  – NightraiN

Plays like a cohesive mix tape, shifting from disco to folk, soul to indie rock, all held together by poignant lyrics delivered with a mischievous smile. – Jesse

Matthew Logan Vasquez does what he wants. – Nesto! 

8. Phoenix - Ti Amo

These guys are so good at writing insane pop songs with incredible precision and depth. I’m not sure that entirely sounds like a compliment but I swear I mean it as one. – Larson

There is something comforting and familiar about the album and I welcomed it with open arms.
– Sharon

9. Portugal. The Man – Woodstock

I liked Portugal. The Man before they sold out... but I still like this album. – NightraiN

Consistently at the top of my year end lists. Still grappling with their rise to fame, but can’t deny those are some catchy ass singles. – Jesse

Hit or miss...but mostly hit!
– Nesto!

10. Wolf Parade - Cry Cry Cry

Spencer Krug 4 EVA – Julia

Very happy that these guys got back together. Yep, still good. – NightraiN

I waiting for Wolf Parade to write their magnum opus for theater. – Nesto!

11. Rostam - Half Light

I have liked everything Rostam has done ever so no surprise I also loved his first solo album.  It's beautifully layered and catching in a surprising way.  I danced, I swooned, I told my Dad to listen to it. – Julia

Gwan's opening strings gives me goose bumps. I love how layered and thoughtful the albums feels. – Sharon

12. Tei Shi - Crawl Space

I saw Tei Shi open for Grimes in 2016. I half watched her set until she started play “Keep Running” and all of the sudden 100% of my attention was focused on the song.  When the album came out it was an incredibly cohesive album that hopped around genres and emotions while constantly maintaining an incredible level of vulnerability and confidence. – Larson

13. Japandroids - Near To The Wild Heart Of Life

Epic, noisy, and their easiest songs to sing along to live. – Jesse

I was already a fan, but this album accentuated my fondness. Fuzzy rock-punk perfect for (mostly) uptempo runs and impassioned sing-a-longs. A recipe for awesomeness! – NightraiN

14. Waxahatchee - Out in the Storm

I have been loving watching Katie Crutchfield develop from a talented young songwriter to a confident and powerful artist.  Crutchfield twin 1 of 2 in my top 10 this year. – Tex

Defiant, electrifying, “Eff You” of a breakup album. I like the “Demo” versions of the songs even better, a little more rough around the edges, if you can get them on your spotifys or your pandoras. – Jeremy

15. Father John Misty - Pure Comedy

Would be higher on my list, but it's not really on the lighter side. - Nesto!

16. Perfume Genius - No Shape

This record makes me see another reality in which I'm not a content man, married for 20+ years to my "soulmate". In that other reality, I'd have a heart/soul rending crush that clearly would never pan out and I'd pine and cry while listening to this album. – Rain

And to think "I kissed a girl" was a big deal. – Ben

17. Petite League - Rips One Into The Night

Everything I could want in an indie pop album - ridiculously catchy hooks, passionate strumming, kick flips, bite marks… – Jesse

Jesse was all "listen to this, it's awesome" and I was all "no, I hate you." Then I did and I never stopped. I also love their older stuff too. – Sharon

18. Jay Z - 4:44

Those that know me, know that I am a huge Jay Z fan. Huge! If you don’t know me, you now know this fact. Super-fan status aside I’m not (always) one to automatically champion whatever my heroes put out. I was a bit skeptical of Jay Z’s 4:44… I think I was worried that perhaps I was no longer interested in what Jay Z had to say or perhaps I was concerned about a clunky response to Lemonade. Both thoughts gave me anxiety… am I a fake? A snob? What I can say, 4:44 is the Jay-Z album I wanted in 2017. – Larson 

19. Algiers - The Underside Of Power

A much needed kick to the heart, psyche and ass! You know how cool you used to feel listening to the Verve's Bittersweet Symphony on your headphones while you walked down the street? Well, take that feeling and cube it and you've got the idea of what it's like to listen to this album. This sinner's believing what that preacher is delivering. You will too... – Rain

The first three tracks are pure fire - soul punk politik. It gets weird, skronky, and desolate on Side 2, but staring into the void might be where we are at these days. – Jesse

20. Ha Ha Tonka - Heart-Shaped Mountain

I have no idea how these guys continue to fly under the radar. They write fantastic songs and are extremely accessible. All-American backyard barbecue music at its best! – NightraiN 

21. Craig Finn - We All Want the Same Things

The album’s cover art and the video for “God in Chicago” alone are worth the price of admission, but the rest of the album is extremely solid too. This is the first time since Boys and Girls in America that I feel like Finn is firing on all cylinders lyrically. Glad to have him back.  – Jeremy

Finn looks like someone you would be more likely to trust with your taxes than trust with writing kick-ass rock songs, but The Hold Steady front man does just that with this album. A solid collection Finn's unique storytelling and sound. – NightraiN

22. Sheer Mag - Need to Feel your Love

Oh hell yeah! It’s the power ballads that set this album apart, demonstrating the depths of their chops go well beyond killer riffs cranked up to 11. – Jesse

This was an eagerly awaited album for me. While I loved the really gritty sound on their early 7”s, it was nice to hear the production a bit cleaner on this full length. 70’s rock but with punk influence and an actual conscience. Or in other words, 70s rock but better… way better. – Larson

23. Battleme - Cult Psychotica

Seasoning serves them well. Wry observations delivered with a smokers rasp, huge crunchy alt. rock riffs mixed with barroom boogie. – Jesse

Get into it! – Nesto!

24. Heat – Overnight

Oddly familiar while 100% original. There’s a deep pool of influence on this album but it’s never heavy handed. These guys shred. – Larson

First album of the year on constant rotation. Perfect follow up to their awesome EP. – Jesse

25. The White Buffalo - Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights

This album came out late in the year, so I don't feel like I have given it a fair shake yet and committed to the songs in the way I usually do. But, as always, this is a fun collection of Americana. –