Band: Chelsea Wolfe and Emma Ruth Rundle
Best song:It’s one song.
Worst song:N/A

Childhood memories are weird things. I’ve noted a lot that my earliest memories are of Chicago Stadium, at ‘Hawks games. If I’m being honest, they’re more vignettes and sense memories. The smell of stale beer and piss in the bathrooms or the deafening organ and “De-troit sucks!” chants emanating from the rafters. But, those are the ones that are most vivid because they fit a narrative of hockey-as-family with my dad and I. I have other memories fro that period involving my sister or mom or friends, but those hockey games are both the most vivid and the best to fit my own life’s narrative of my relationship with my dad. Read More »

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Best song: , “I WHO BEND THE TALL GRASSES” is one of the best songs of the year.
Worst song:Nah

I normally keep my work-life out of this space for a variety of reasons, but I do want to get something off my chest because a tweet – it’s always a tweet .

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Band: Liturgy
Best song: “Generation” is terrific
Worst song:It’s legit hard to pick a worst song. It’s a terrific album that should be treated as one work, I think.

I’ve written in this space about my adoration for record labels/companies and the way that these organizations themselves seemed to stoked the scenes in my formative years. Thrill Jockey was one of those labels, being the home of my favorite band, Tortoise.

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Band: Nick Lutsko
Best song: “Software” is my favorite song on the album.
Worst song:I’m least hot on “Streets.”

Because I’m a white man, I watched all of the Peter Jackson Beatles documentary miniseries (my one-line review: It’s compelling, albeit hagiography) this week and it reminded me of the wonder of the Beatles’ work, including their post-band solo stuff.

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Carrie & Lowell Live

Band: Sufjan Stevens
Album: Carrie & Lowell Live
Best song: “Fourth of July” is perfect, but “Should Have Known Better” is a close second.
Worst song:I guess I originally said “Drawn to the Blood” is the least strong song on the record, but I know think it to be “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross”

A lot of modern non-fundamentalist rabbis treat Jewish liturgy as self help tracts and eschew the strict reading of liturgy or scripture or the mountains of text from centuries of Jewish sages to produce something about the internal broken nature of humanity and of each of us (Sophia Zohar did it beautifully recently). Most progressive rabbis use liturgy as metaphorical toward politics or news or something; last year’s Tisha B’Av service I attended used the burning of the Temple as a metaphor for climate change (the earth is our metaphorical temple and we burned it). I don’t say that to criticize these readings, but rather to point out that these are the tacts du jour for modern American Judaism. Spinoza, arguably, got kicked the fuck out for less. Read More »
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Electric Messiah

Band: High on Fire
Album: Electric Messiah
Best song: The title track totally rips.
Worst song:“Drowning Dog” isn’t great.

I broadly don’t believe in the idea of “cancelling” someone, but for the thought experiment that bad faith arguers believe it to be, I’ll bite and take another shot at explaining my own thinking when it comes to delineating art and artist. As in: When do I decide to stop consuming someone’s music/movies/etc. because of their politics. My own personal cancelling, I guess. Read More »
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Band: Ioanna Gika
Album: Thalassa
Best song: “Messenger” is one of my favorite songs of the last few years..
Worst song:The final three tracks kind of run together.

I don’t read much music criticism at all. I’ll read the odd Quietus feature or might hit a Pitchfork link if someone sends it to me. I read year-end lists every December and try to catch up, but I’m mostly disconnected from that part of the culture. This makes finding new music tougher than it used to be; I often just find out about bands through Two Minutes to Late Night guest spots or though opening bands. I mentioned this in the True Widow thing, as I saw them open up for Chelsea Wolfe.

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May Our Chambers Be Full

Band: Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou
Album: May Our Chambers Be Full
Best song: “The Valley” is one of the best songs in recent memory.
Worst song:”Monolith” is the only track without Rundle.

One of my worst impulses that I continuously follow – even though I know it’s bad – is to know as much information about a record that I can. I want to know about the people in the band, I want to know how the record came together and I even want to know the intention behind everything about the album. Read More »
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Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

Band: Deafheaven
Album: Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
Best song: “Canary Yellow”
Worst song:“Near,” but that’s still a good song.

The pandemic is nearly an end, of sorts. The vaccine rollout is becoming more real and people are getting vaccinated, including me. The world of quarantine is slowing peeling itself back and we, in theory, will be back to a version of normal soon. Bands are booking festivals. Live music may be back soon. Refunds were issued – I was supposed to see Judas Priest indoors in October and that did not happen, for example – and we’re in a waiting pattern. I was supposed to see Deafheaven’s 10-year anniversary tour in May. It got “postponed.” Read More »
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Didn’t It Rain

Band: Songs:Ohia
Album: Didn’t It Rain
Best song: “Blue Factory Flame”
Worst song: “Cross the Road, Molina”

I am hardly the first – and I will not be the last – to note that the last year of the pandemic has felt like a wheel spinning in place. Time has both flattened out and felt extended. For kids in school doing some sort of remote work, it’s been something of a wasted year both in learning and in socialization. For so many of the rest of us, it’s just felt like a hellish twilight zone of oblivion; a purgatory of staying inside, watching death and infection totals climb.

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