Friday, November 30, 2018

XPN Top Ten

It's not a contest, but I do have fun here, and as it's songs that have been playecd on  the station, some artist who would otherwise be on my top ten have been omitted, like FrontPerson F*Up, and so on. No albuns, and treat this overall as a first draft, I expect this list to change, but the #one song might not change. People Get Old, funny, sweet song about watching their dad grow old, and themselves. 

Lori McKenna People Get Old

Childish Gambino This is America

Neko Case Bad Luck

Sharon Van Etton Comeback Kid

Kississippi - Cut Your Teeth (Philly band)

Caroline Rose Soul #5

Hop Along How Simple (Philly band) 

Rayland Baxter Casanova

Rainbow Kitten Surprise Fever Pitch

Mitski Nobody

Andrea Weiss

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


Fucked Up
Dose Your Dreams
Merge Records

Here's yet another band cast out of Matador, who apparently got caught up in the same mishegoss that caused Cat Power to be dumped when she wouldn’t ape Adele. But who needs the major indie? Fucked Up have made the best album of their career. It recalls a lost classic, Game Theory’s Lolita Nation, college rock's answer to Sgt. Pepper, with its crazy experiments, very wide ranging mix of styles, and lyrics that are both poetic and trippy. 

Dose is a love story. David, of Fucked Up’s 2011 masterwork David Comes To Life, is now an office worker. He meets Joyce, the elderly woman of his dreams, an angel, but then she’s gone. Will Joyce’s other lover, Lloyd, find her too and be with her for eternity? 

Love is bought and sold, like any other impersonal consumer product, which also makes Dose very political. Its moods vary from extreme sadness and depression to celebrating life and love, all set to music that is unbelievable. It’s all pop--hardcore pop, digital hardcore, adult rock hardcore. By expanding their range like never before, they go beyond labels like post hardcore and become a class all their own.

A whole cast of musicians plays on this album, too many to list here, but special attention must be paid to lead vocalist Damian Abraham and guest vocalists Miya Folick and Jennifer Castle, all of whom are superb, as is M. Haliechuk. They are the vocal glue that makes the pieces fit, and embody all the emotional states on the album adroitly. 

Three cheers to Merge for releasing this. Don’t let this slip through the cracks. I’ve not heard another album quite like it all year, and this late in, I probably won’t. It's just wonderful, and thought provoking too. 

Andrea Weiss

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Necessary Animals
Self released

On this dark beauty of an album, Necessary Animals knit together diverse influences into a comprehensive whole. The group comprises Keith Rodway (The Good Missionaries), Amanda Thompson (The Big Believe), and Alan Bruzon (Cuban Boys), with a host of top-notch guests, including Simon Charterton (Higsons) on drums, and produced by Fritz Catlin (23 Skidoo). Ingvild Deila (yes, that one -- Princess Leia in "Rogue One") brings powerful, honest vocals that are honestly good.

Well-crafted, complex arrangements with an eclectic array of instruments explore anxiety, loss, elusiveness, our animal nature, and hope, whether in the contemporary prog stylings of the eponymous opening track, the upbeat world music flavors of "Talk to Me", or the psych-Reggae "Walking to Babylon". The nocturnal, enchanting "Darkness Comes Over the Hills"layers a bluesy guitar solo by Steve Finnerty over a piano backbone and twinkling chimes. "Piano Thing" is modern chamber music, melodic but dissonant, evoking the depths of an unquieting night faced alone. Closer "Revelation" brings us back to the 90's beat-inflected post-pop we explore on "Amarilla", admonishing us to be strong, to not be afraid, to not lose hope. The songs draw you into a groove, then throw you a delightful curve ball of a key change, style change, or unexpected instruments coming in. All in all a wonderful album, disturbing and off-kilter enough to be interesting, even challenging, while maintaining melodic beauty and a balance of familiar, comfortable elements.   --

Jen Grover (guest blogger)


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