Skip to main content

What I Listened to in 2017

Every year, I jot down my favorite albums, movies, and books. This was a great year for music and below are the albums that meant the most to me. In other words, these are the albums I listened to the most that came out this year and why you might like them too. 

Swallowed in Leaves by Morgan Crooks (2017)
American Dream by LCD Soundsystem. LCD Soundsystem is a band lurking on the fringe of my awareness for many years. A mix of casual indie drone and dance music, this band struck me as something to appreciate in theory more than practice. That changes with this album. Apparently the product of a specific request by the late David Bowie, James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem put together this collection to reflect what happened last year and this. The results are staggering. I think what impressed me first is the degree of FREEDOM in this album. The happy hybrid between indie rock noise and dance music grooves produces one epic and heart-rending moment after another. This didn't stop being my favorite album of the year from the second I first heard it. Standouts: oh baby, how do you sleep?, and tonite.

DAMN. By Kendrick Lamar. I like music to make me feel something. Music that makes me understand what I didn't know I was already feeling. That describes this latest and best album by Kendrick Lamar. From the first spoken line to the last, DAMN. describes loss, confusion, and grief of a person wholly unprepared feel any of that. Kendrick's gift is making the specific feel unviersal and the universal sound like it hand-crafted to make you dance your pain away. Standouts: DNA., FEEL., and FEAR.

Masseduction by St. Vincent. St. Vincent has had a few appearances on my year-end lists. This might be my favorite album of hers. Thundering, funky, raw, and triumphant, this is an album that can only be produced by someone at the absolute peak of their creative talents. That peculiar voice of Ann Clark is pitched one half step lower than you might think it would be, a half step ahead of where you expect it, and ready to puncture whatever cheery illusion you just thought up. Come for the danceable rhythms, stay for the poetry. Standouts: Masseduction, Pills, and Happy Birthday, Johnny.

Science Fiction by Brand New. Indie rock crafted with an eye towards rock opera epiphanies and self-flagellating ballads. None of these songs settle into easy patterns. All of them find some way of melting faces. But whether talking about manic depression, failed relationships, bigotry, or loss of control, these songs describe a society slowly sliding into the sea. Standouts: Lit Me Up, Can't Get It Out, and the quiet fury of Could Never Be Heaven.

Eternity, In Your Arms by Creeper. The best album of 2002 was accidentally put in a vault and released this year. I was never big into emo-rock but this album makes me a believer. It's the tunes and the emotional complexity of the lyrics. Unafraid of bleak topics and searing drama, Creeper has five or six songs I had trouble prying out of my brain. Standouts: Black Rain, Down Below, and Winona Forever.

Other notable albums were: The Underside of Power by Algiers, A Crow Looked at Me by Mount Eerie, and Painted Ruins by Grizzly Bear.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

What I Read in 2017

The third in my series of year-end lists is literature. As in past years, I've divided this post into two categories: Novels and short stories. Each of these stories made 2017 just a bit brighter for me and I hope this list includes at least a writer or two new to you.

I Wish I was You by SP Miskowski: This was the subject of a review earlier this year. The way I feel about this novel, the tragedy of a talented person crippled by anger and regret, transformed into a monstrous avatar of wrath, has not really left me. Beyond the perfection of its prose and its preternatural subject matter, I feel like this is one of the best evocations of the mid-nineties I've seen published. There's something about this book that lingers with me long past the concerns of its plot and characters. I guess what I'm trying to say is this work moved me. 2017 would have been a lot dimmer if I hadn't read this work.New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson: Robinson writes next-level sp…

Writing Horror

I'm wary offering advice to other writers. 

First of all I've got the whole imposter syndrome thing and whatever advice I give feels like a good way of revealing how little I know about anything. Second, what I've learned mostly relates to solving problems in my own writing. What advice does a dog have to offer to a duck on how to swim? 
However, for Arisia 2018, I'll be participating on a panel of doing just that - giving advice to aspiring horror writers about writing horror.

So, what truths can I impart?

Some advice feels absolutely true, if a bit self-evident.

You must read. If you're trying to write horror then you must read horror. Not just one novel. Not just one author. You should make a sincere effort to read everything by everyone. The more recent the better. The classics are always going to be there, but if you want a sense of where your stories could fit, you need to see what is being published out there.

You must write. I do not think you have to write …

We Have Always Lived in Haunted Houses

As my final pre-Arisia post, I'd like to tackle ghosts. Metaphorically, of course, because ghosts are intangible and also don't exist. 

I don't believe in ghosts. Not the sort of ghosts, anyway, that float around decaying old mansions or scare impressionable media personalities. Physics, at least the way I've grown up understanding it, precludes the existence of energy that cannot be detected reliably. Put another way, physicist Brian Cox stated that if ghosts existed the Large Hadron Collider would have almost certainly found one by now.

So, when I say I'm a fan of ghost stories and tales of haunted houses, am I being hypocritical? Possibly, but I also think one can appreciate ghosts and haunted houses in a different way. Even though they might not exist in a 'peer-reviewed' and 'experimentally replicable' fashion, phantoms absolutely exist as a potent symbol of the past.

When we talk about ghosts what we're really talking about is that annoying…