Tuesday, December 29, 2009

my 12 favorite albums of 2009


Two things before we start:
  1. I don't like blogging, and
  2. I don't like for lists
That makes this combination difficult for me.

My issue with the former comes from a few well-established principles, which I'll elaborate upon briefly here. First, the amount of time and effort it takes to write a blog post vastly exceeds the limited, and usually unseen (or at least unremarked) enjoyment that anybody gets from reading said posts. Secondly, it's highly unlikely that the blogger (in this case me, but come on, I know you've been thinking about it) has anything actually worth saying. No offense. Please feel free to return to perusing your twitter feeds now.

My issue with list-making is that, in general, I don't think people think like that. We simply like some albums, and dislike others. Unless I'm comparing it to another album by the group, I'm never thinking "ooo, Sufjan Stevens is so much better than Bloc Party!" Still, like it or not, at the end of every year, we're barraged with "Best Of" lists. And Here's another problem: they're not just "My Favorite Albums of the Year" lists, but indisputably, invariably, without-any-doubt, THE BEST albums of 2009. It's as if everybody has forgotten about the uniquely personal (and, after a certain point, relatively arbitrary) nature of the decision-making process. If, as you say, Animal Collective really is tangibly better than Grizzly Bear, then please show your work. These aren't "best of" lists, they're just a collection of albums released during the same calendar year that you happen to like, some more than others.

There.

Still, I wasn't going to make a list of my favorite albums of the year. Not really for any of the aforementioned reasons, but just because it's such a pain. First of all, I don't really know anything about music. Second of all, it's pretty hard to describe sounds, or to explain why you (or your reader) might like them. It's much easier to just sit around. But I knew that I had to write something, just like my friend Dave knows he's got to eat chicken for dinner; I care too much about music not to chime in, offer some kind of year-summary, keep track of the things I liked. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but in the end, it's just nice to have a record. Future Jake will appreciate it.

This is me making sure my affairs are in order.

Let's proceed, shall we?

#12:
Dead Man's Bones, Dead Man's Bones

Ryan Gosling is a talented guy. He won over Teeny-boppers as a kid when he was a member of the Mickey Mouse Club, Jews with The Believer, weird, lonely people with Lars and the Real Girl, and just about everybody else with Half Nelson. He made my friend Rich (a pseudonym) cry with his performance in The Notebook. However, the indie music scene, where the best way to achieve success is to toil in relative obscurity for around a decade before being 'reconsidered' in the context of modern music, isn't a particularly inviting place, especially to celebrities. You're doomed if there is even the faintest whiff of artifice.

Luckily, these guys don't. Instead of taking cues from new wave or post-punk or post-post-punk or any of the other styles of the moment, they draw from 1950's doo-wop and B-movie ethos. In an interview, Gosling said the album was inspired by Disney's Haunted Mansion ride, and the project was originally conceived of as a love-story musical about ghosts and monsters. The resulting songs (just look at the names "My Body's a Zombie for You" and "Werewolf Head") are eerie in the same way that the TV show Eerie, Indiana was, or that R.L. Stine books are. They are trying to create atmosphere: one song prominently features girl crying, another a whispered monologue, a third is set against background of howling wolves. All this is overlayed by snapping fingers, hand-claps, and simple, but sufficient, piano and guitar melodies (Gosling and Ryan Shields, the other half of the band, learned the instruments that they didn't know). And then there are their voices: Shields has a feathery voice more suited for the indie scene, while Gosling channels his inner Elvis.

What holds the album together is the lo-fi nature of the production: no "click tracks" were used (I'm guessing that means metronomes), and songs were recorded within three takes, in what sounds like large empty room. Songs end, but the recording goes on, and chit-chat can be overheard between members of the kid's choir (did I mention that most songs feature the Silverlake Music Children's Choir?) and their director. They album is like a make-shift Halloween costume where the scotch tape is showing that your mom made for you when you were a bit too old to be going trick-or-treating anyways. But let's be honest, weren't those the best Halloweens?

Slay Tracks: Dead Hearts, In the Room Where You Sleep, My Body's a Zombie for Your, Pa Pa Power, Lose Your Soul, Werewolf Head, Dead Man's Bones

#11:
Julian Casablancas, Phrazes for the Young


Midway through the first song on his debut solo album, Julian Casablancas asks listeners, "why can't you ignore the things I did before?" The answer is pretty simple: you, Julian Casablancas, are a member of the Strokes, a band whose 2001 debut Is This It was supposed to save - whatever that means - Rock n' Roll. While, it didn't, Is This It is a great album, somehow surviving a musical hype machine that so often eats its young. It was an album that arrived fully-formed: Casablancas' raspy vocals and detached, world-weary lyrics acted as the perfect counterpoint for the near-mechanical drumming, and Television-esque guitars.

The Strokes follow-up, 2003's Room on Fire, honed their sound, but perhaps didn't take enough chances. That changed with 2006's overstuffed "First Impressions of Earth," an album that lunged in a lot of different directions, but came away with very little to show for it. On the synth-y ballad (Can you imagine, the Strokes wrote a ballad? With Synths?), Casablancas crooned "We could drag it out / but that's for other bands to do" before slipping into a refrain of "I've got nothing to say." Needless to say, the Strokes haven't released anything since.

Phrazes for the Young, perhaps the worst titled album of the year, is an attempt to re-define himself. As the title (a reference to a compilation of Oscar Wilde witticisms but with a 'z' to show that he's hip) and cover suggest, the album has a retro-futuristic quality. Over the course of the album, Casablancas refers to humanity as "complicated mammals on the wings of robots," laments that "we were born waiting in line," and shows his concern with the "afterlife of supercities," particularly the possibility that "soon the whole world will be urban sprawl." Still, it's hard to say if he's trying to capture (or actually interested in capturing) the chaos, confusion, and culture shock of modern living, or if he's looking for someone to do it for him: in "11th dimension," which sounds like a Strokes song remixed by Daft Punk, Casablancas asks "So when's it coming - this last new great movement that I can join?"

You can't fault the guy for trying though. After First Impressions of Earth it seemed like the well had run dry. However, on "Tourist," the album's denouement, Casablancas mixes a middle-eastern sitar, what sounds like a trumpet, and a syncopated drum beat, all before we even reach the chorus. Which isn't to say that there aren't moments of overkill - there are a lot of them. The banjo solo on "Ludlow Street," a tiring six-minute western waltz that provides a history of the NYC street, doesn't really work. Still, the guy's seemingly inherent knack for melody prevents even the most loaded tracks from completely de-railing.

The album is also aided by the fact that Casablancas appears to have dropped his too-cool-for-school image (something that was, in part, outside of his hands: the Strokes did meet at a Swiss boarding school, that his father does own the most successful modeling agency in the world, and that his name is Julian Casablancas) and opens up. On "Left and Right in the Dark," he reflects upon his role in the Strokes mythology, singing that "I might have used tricks to make you like me more" and on "11th Dimension" provides a potential causes for his change "and don't be shy, oh no, at least not deliberately - cause no one really cares or wonders why anymore." On a number of songs he sings about his childhood, and guess what, it seems quite normal.

Here's a Phraze for the young: Unless you're Steve Malkmus, if you build your career on being cool and unphased by anything, it's only a matter of time before people start to think you're boring, and the best to win the crowds back is to let the mask down. Why do you think Tom Cruise has been on Oprah so many times? Phrazes for the Young, while a little scatter-shot, is definitely a step in the right direction.

Slay Tracks: Out of the Blue, Left and Right in the Dark, 11th Dimension, River of Brakelights, Glass, Tourist.
#10:
Future of the Left, Travels with Myself and Another

The Future of the Left is my favorite Welsh band. Of course, the only other Welsh band that I can think of is Mclusky, who broke up in 2005, and had members that went on to form The Future of the Left...However, if Mclusky were right when they sang "my band is better than your band" in their 2002 album Mclusky do Dallas, isn't there reason to believe that The Future of the Left is also better than your band?

The answer is yeah, pretty much. The Future of the Left write loud, raucous, insanely compact pop songs. While they do feel abrasive at first, it's only because they are sinking their tendrils into your brain - believe me, these are some of the catchiest songs you'll hear all year. In part, I think that what prevents this band from attaining the kind of status they probably deserve is their subject matter: war. It's a shame too, cause it's really classic stuff. Think of the final lines of Wilfred Owen's 1917 poem Dulce et Decorum Est which translate to "the old lie: it is glorious and honorable to die for one's country." Look at the the chorus in "The Hope that House Built": "Come join our hopeless cause, come join our lost cause," and tell me that Owen's sentiment isn't felt there. Or the stanza in "Land of my Formers" that goes: "Not much of an incident / a couple of fists in the gut for my troubles / Nothing to write home about / A couple of drinks and a break for the border. Of course, ne of the many differences between Wilfred Owen and Andy Falkous, the lead singer of the band, is that the latter has a sense of humor. Check out the lyrics that open "Throwing Bricks at Trains," another standout tracks on the album: "Slight bowel movements preceded the bloodless coup." It could be a diary entry from disinterested warlord. I think that it would bring a smile to Hannah Arendt's face.

This isn't a joke-band though. Jokes get old. This band is droll, wry, observant, witty. Even if you get turned off by a song titled "You need Satan more than he needs you," how could you not appreciate the chorus: "What kind of orgy leaves a sense of deeper love?" That's just funny stuff.

Recap: this is an intense and intensely talented band with a sense of fun. The shitty part about it is that these guys, who've been making music since 1996, still work part-time jobs. Still, if it took the Pixies fifteen years to really break through, I don't have any doubt that in 2025 we'll all be queued up at Ticketmaster waiting for The Future of the Left tickets to go on-line. That is, if Mclusky doesn't get back together...

Slay Tracks: Arming Eritrea, Chin Music, The Hope that House Built, Throwing Bricks at Trains, I am Civil Service, Land of my Formers, You Need Satan More than He Needs You, That Damned Fly, Stand by Your Manatee, Yin/Post-Yin, Drink Nike

#9:
Built to Spill, There is No Enemy

A couple of reasons why I never got into Built to Spill: 1) I got into Modest Mouse before I'd heard them and so they sounded tame by comparison; 2) I had the sense that they were sort of a "jam band" - and even if they weren't a jam band in the traditional sense of Phish, pot, patchouli, and body odor, just the loose association with the word rubbed me the wrong way. My bad.

This year, I was looking for another band to get really into. I'd spent a year with Radiohead, another with Modest Mouse, and then Pink Floyd, two years with Pavement, and then a year-or-so with the Drones. Each band had at least three or four excellent albums behind them, and so provided for countless hours of easy listening. Each band was also very different from one another, creating soundscapes for their unique world-views. I didn't really know where to look. At the beginning of the year, my friend asked me, "who do you think is better: Modest Mouse or Built to Spill?" I didn't begin to know how to answer the question, but just the fact that it could be raised led me to There is No Enemy.

Some songs may go on a bit too long, but only because they're carefully constructed: they need that time to unfold. I've yet to fully explore Built to Spill's back catalogue, but if it's anything like this album, with it's transcendent guitar, ethereal vocals, and big questions (see Oh Yeah: "And if God does exist / I am sure he will forgive / me for doubting that he'd see / how unlikely he himself seems"), then it looks like I know what I'll be listening to in 2010.

Slay Tracks: Aisle 13, Hindsight, Nowhere Lullaby, Life's a Dream, Done, Things Fall Apart, Tomorrow


#8:
The Phantom Band, Checkmate Savage



There were a number of good Scottish albums that came out this year. The Phantom Band's debut album Checkmate Savage was my favorite. Maybe because I think Scottish misanthropy in song form has already been perfected, that I wasn't blown away by We Were Promised Jetpack's angst, or the Twilight Sad's crushing defeat.

Checkmate savage is a different kind of Scottish album. Sure, it's got the lilting brogue that makes Americans swoon, but musically it's might be more influenced by the German tradition of Krautrock, a term I only know in the context of Death Cab for Cutie's not-so-great-as-it-is-long "I Will Possess Your Heart." The Phantom Band locks into a heavy, heavy groove, incorporating all kinds of instruments and sounds, and after slowly building it, adding layers to it, they change it into something entirely different and equally fantastic (twenty songs for the price of nine!). The only other Scottish touchstone that I can think of, and few people will recognize, is the 1990's band Rollerskate Skinny (fronted by MBV lead singer Kevin Shields brother). Both bands could genre-hop with an ease that would make Gwen Stefani jealous. The Phantom Band move from pop to gothic to techno to rock and even acapella without missing a beat, and with an ease that belies their age. A very mature debut.

Slay Tracks: The Howling, Folk Song Oblivion, Halfhound, Left Hand Wave, Throwing Bones

#7:
Julian Plenti, Julian Plenti is...Skyscraper



Julian Plenti is...Skyscraper, but he is also Paul Banks, who, in 2002, auditioned for the role of best Ian Curtis imitator in Interpol's criminally good debut "Turn on the Bright Lights." This is, of course, a somewhat back-handed compliment. While both Interpol and Joy Division explored life's black and whites from a coolly detached perspective, Interpol updated the sound: their music was more angular and aggressive, dirtier even. Think of NYC's lyrics: "The subway is a porno/ Pavements they are a mess/ I know you've supported me for a long time / Somehow I'm not impressed."

It's not that Interpol released anything bad with "Antics" or "Our Love to Admire," it's just that the freshness and genius of "Turn on the Bright Lights" started to seem a little schtick-y. So what's the lead singer of a band with a fully-formed, critically acclaimed debut, and two subsequently watered-down efforts, to do? Create an alter ego, of course.

Julian Plenti, at least as I picture him, is a somewhat sleazy, down-on-his-luck secret agent - a James Bond character more likely to visit S&M clubs than casinos. Take, for instance, the song "Girl on the Sporting News," where he dryly croons to a newscaster "you've got the kind of sex appeal that doesn't get a guy like me down." On "Games for Days," a pummeling musical number, Plenti sounds as if his love affair has gone sinister ("Babe, you play my heart / like the way you play guitar"). "No Chance Survival," another standout number, creeps along with a growing intensity, as Plenti laments that "something so vile has become so commonplace."

Pitchfork's review of Skyscraper only saw it as a precursor for better things to come from Interpol, they missed the fact that this solo venture allowed Banks to try things that Interpol, with such a firmly entrenched sound, could never do (i.e. use a horn section in "Unwind" or try a simple acoustic guitar number in "On the Esplanade"). I know I read too much into lyrics, but in "On the Esplanade" I can't help but think that Banks is admitting to the riskiness of this album. when he sings "It was a big slip for me to roll up my golden life." I think it would have been a big slip if he hadn't.

Slay Tracks: Only if you Run, Fun that we have, Games for Days, No Chance Survival, Unwind, On the Esplanade, Fly as you Might

#6:
Ramona Falls, Intuit



Brent Knopf, the lead singer and master of ceremonies of Ramona Falls, works another gig with the great band, Menomena. As a result their styles are somewhat similar, taking disparate sonic elements and creating audible masterpieces in a sum-of-the-parts-is-greater-than-the-whole kind of way. Their approaches vary though: Menomena mixes the punk and funk and skronk of three musicians, whereas Knopf pulled in over thirty musicians in the Portland, Oregon area to make Intuit.

He'd probably have shown up on this list just for creating such a seamless product, but the music is great. The songs are meticulously layered: melodies rise and fall, are introduced and disappear, only to turn up after off-stage costume changes. And despite the inevitable complications of such a hugely collaborative approach, the album still seems intensely personal, a true labor of love for Knopf. On "Bellyfulla," my favorite track from the album, he captures the best of both aspects: a simple chord progression on an acoustic guitar and a steady kick drum give way to a rising, swirling chorus of singers, so that when Knopf sings:

"If I could just listen to her, this seashell rests against my ear -- Well, there's a sea and a shell at the end / and I can hear down the spiral, my friends / more happiness than a body can hold"

you can't help but be awed by the delicate balance he's managed to forge between the intimacy of a 'solo' record and the community of collaboration.

Slay Tracks: Melectric, I Say Fever, Clover, Russia, Going Once, Going Twice, Salt Sack, Bellyfull, Diamond Shovel

#5:
Polvo, In Prism


Polvo is, if I understand the term correctly, a "math rock" band. Their wikipedia page indicates that they were standard bearers of the genre in the early 1990's, but also states that they disagree with that claim. Early this year, I got a copy of their esteemed 1993 album, Today's Active Lifestyles, and after listening to what I perceived as 17/13 time signatures and seemingly random tempo changes, I assumed that was the last I'd ever hear of them...

But then, as I so often do, I got bored at work. Cruising Pitchfork, I found their song "Beggar's Bowl" and figured why not. I sat in awe for the five minutes that it played. I played it again. And again. I must have listened to it ten times in a row. It's "math rock" for people who think that the words mathematics and rock shouldn't be paired together. It's unrelenting and intense. It's massive. It's catchy. It's my favorite song of the year.

It's no secret that I'm a lyrics guy. The best way to get me coming back for more is to get me thinking. The best way to get me thinking is to say something neat. Polvo is a different breed though. While their lyrics are sufficiently cryptic and interesting, they take a back seat to the sound. A cross between Tool and My Bloody Valentine, their music is loud and noisy, hushed and subtle, and perhaps even more impressively, seemingly completely within their control.

When I was getting into "indie," I didn't know what Sonic Youth would sound like. I'd heard their name get thrown around a lot, a kind of shorthand for walls of feedback, alternate guitar tunings, unorthodox anthems. I knew that they inspired Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood. So by the time I listened to Daydream Nation my expectations were set so high that I couldn't help but be let down. Sonic Youth released a very good album this year, the Eternal, but it still didn't have the sound that I first imagined. And even if I'm completely off base, Polvo's In Prism fills that void for me.

Slay Tracks: Right the Relation, D.C. Trails, Beggars Bowl, Lucia, the Pedlar, A Link in the Chain

#4:
Sunset Rubdown, Dragonslayer


I really liked Shut Up I am Dreaming. It took a while, but I did. Initially, I was disappointed that it didn't sound more like Wolf Parade, that it was quieter and more spread out. The production values weren't as high. Little did I know that it was a waterfall waiting inside a well. When "Random Spirit Lover" came along and I expected the same thing to happen. But it never did. It was weighted down with too many ideas; it was too complex, convoluted, and too long. It was a reminder of what can happen if you spend too much time on a good idea.

Dragonslayer sounds looser, freer, more spontaneous. It's second track, Idiot Heart is one of the purest pop songs I've heard in a long time, a chugging dance-along that moves from hook to hook like Nero at an orgy. Which is perhaps a metaphor that Spencer Krug might enjoy. The guy works with his own unique set of symbols, and the album is laden with references to kings, virgins, ghosts, roman gods, lizards, and buffalo. His language works so well that when he sings

"when me and the boys were out / we killed a thousand butterflies / so I put their wings into my mouth and said a prayer for our safe arrival / and then a big black car crossed our path and I wondered whether or not that shit was empty"

in the apogee of the album "You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)" on some level you think you know what he means. By the time that "Dragon's Lair," a ten-minute epic that closes the album, comes to an end, you realize that he is, as the song title cleverly suggests, the Dragon slayer, the kind in his otherworldly mythology.

Slay Tracks: Silver Moons, Idiot Heart, Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Oh!, Paper Lace, You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II), Dragon's Lair.

#3:
The Veils, Sun Gangs



According to Sun Gangs, the Veil's Finn Andrews is "a scarecrow not made for these times." That seems like a fair assessment to me. When I saw them live this July, Finn seemed pained; like his body was a conduit for the sounds coming through it (particularly on the track Larkspur, which seems overly long on the album, but is fantastic live). Luckily though, he's an incredible singer, a mix of Jeff Buckley and Thom Yorke. Unlike Jeff Buckley though, Andrews' music is interesting, and unlike the-Yorke-of-late, Andrews isn't just interested in creating sad, beautiful songs. While he can craft simple haunting sentences on things like life's futility ("where I am going you can't save me") or his loss of spirituality (I'd off my soul if I thought it might help at all"), he's well aware that you need to show the lows to make the highs that much more impressive, which he demonstrates by songs like 'Sit down by the fire,' 'The Letter,' and 'Three sisters.' 'Killed by the boom' is an unrelenting slice of intensity that rivals only Nux Vomica's "Jesus for the Jugular". My personal favorite on the album though is "The House She Lived in," a breezy, swaying piano number that makes its melancholy lyrics hit that much harder ("I know that it was me alone she loved though i still have nothing to show for it").

My only complaint with this album, and what prevents it from achieving a higher ranking, is that while the songs seem content to ratchet up the volume, tempo, intensity, but never make that final transition to something larger (think the final minute of Radiohead's "Paranoid Android"). Additionally, and I'd never really considered it before this album, but the sequencing nearly parallels 2007's overlooked and slightly better Nux Vomica. It's a slight concern, but throw us a curveball next time.

Slay Tracks: Sit Down by the Fire, Sun Gangs, The Letter, Killed by the Boom, Three Sisters, The House She Lived In.

#2:
Orphans and Vandals, I am alive and you are dead


It's too simplistic to say that the English band, Orphans and Vandals, sound like the Arcade Fire with Lou Reed singing instead Win Butler, but I think there's a bit merit to that. Orphans and Vandals, like the Arcade Fire, are, ostensibly, a folk ensemble. They make use of the violin, viola, xylophone, heck even a musical saw and a harmonium. Like the Arcade Fire, their music is enthralling and ambitious; unlike the Arcade fire, who write songs meant for nations to rally around ("Intervention" could the soundtrack to the French Revolution), Al Joshua's groups focuses more on the personal.

Just like how Justin Vernon spent a winter in a remote cabin, with only his thoughts of ex-girlfriends and musical instruments and came out with one of the best albums of 2008, Al Joshua took a pilgrimage to to Charville Messiers, France, birthplace of 19th Century French poet Arthur Rimbaud, did some thinking about the people there, and about himself, and made one of the best albums of 2009. I am alive and you are dead captures the essence of that journey: the strangers and familiar faces, the dirt and the grime, the trashcan bonfires, and friendships made with transient people just like us. Here's a taste of his street-urchin poetry:
"Down along the strand there's a golden light down there/ Crowds of immigrant ghosts team along the alleyways and thoroughfares/ at picadilly circus, there's a boy who isn't there/ and an old woman stops me on the street/ and her body's homeless and dying and when she touches me it's such a treat/ she takes my hand in her two hands and says the earth is flat / how'd she know that? How'd she know that/ Black taxi crabs turning around in the rain/ washes through the city, runs our the drain/ like the blood that rushes through my body to the cock and the brain."

Some people may write off this album as a series of spoken-word vignettes. But I can't tell you how happy I am to hear someone who has no aspirations of ever being on American Idol, who can find melody in an overheard conversation, the poetry of everyday life. Al Joshua is clearly fascinated with the human voice, the words we use to express ourselves, and the interaction between sounds and meaning. In that sense he's more poet than singer. I don't think Robert Frost would mind being name-checked at all:

"I remember Victoria coach station/ I was 14 years old/sitting by the gate where the cheap jewelry was sold/ and when I crossed the river, it turned from brown to gold / ten thousand gray swimmers in the water rolling over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again/ and what happened to the people that were there just a moment ago, huddled 'round the edge of the station and the square and the magazine stands and the taxi ranks/ and the words are lovely, dark and deep, but I have miles to go and miles to go and miles to go before I sleep."

Though rough and uneven at times, I can't think of a more impressive, more inspiring debut album I've ever heard.

Slay Tracks: Strays, Mysterious Skin, Argyle Square, Metropes, Christopher, Terra Firma

#1:
The Drones, Havilah


In 2009, the indie rock snake got closer than ever to swallowing its own tail. What started with irony and self-awareness (perhaps most importantly, of one's shortcomings) in the early 90's, a rebellion against the bloated, self-important cock rock of the 80's, got closer to smothering itself. Wavves pushed lo-fi into the abyss. Passion Pit shat on a synthesizer and screeched about it in front of a group of children.

It's hard to watch the music videos released by some of the "it" bands, and not want to laugh. Who are these people and why are they wearing skin-tight body suits and eye-patches? Why is everything in neon? I know that things change, that "indie" as a label is meaningless, and not that everything needs to be serious, but neither does it need to involve hordes of nude bodies and inflatable balls that look like vaginas.

Maybe it's because the Drones are from Australia that they aren't caught up in the trends. Then again, maybe it's because they're more interested in creating something meaningful, and not just dicking around. A lot of people get thrown off by the Drones, thinking 'oh they write about cannibals, or men last at sea and surrounded by sharks, or the first moon landing" and say, "thanks, but that's not for me, I'd rather just have something I can dance to, something I don't need to think about." Well here's my New Years advice to you: ride an elevator.

Too harsh? I'm with you, 999 times our of 1000 I wouldn't want to hear a song about the impact of 'advanced' cultures on primitive tribes in the southwest pacific. However, that changes when someone sings,

"And I am ruin borne by sea/stone age smoked by dysentry/ Patient zero to the lust of Papuans/Trade one want for another want/And if they want to see me one more time/ Then typhoid's seen to them/And they are just like all the white folks/The whites are just like them/They take pain and superstition/And then they call it something else."
The only band that I can think to compare them to is Modest Mouse - The Modest Mouse of the 1990s though, the one that looked at people drinking orange Julius' and foresaw the end of the world. Not the one who first floated on, and then said it's okay that the dashboard melted because we've still got the radio, or that it didnt matter that the car was on blocks because he was already where he wanted to go. Gareth Liddiard shrieks like him. His band matches that intensity. Unlike Isaac Broke though, I think he's still got something to say.

This video does them more justice than I will ever be able to.

Slay Tracks: Nail it Down, The Minotaur, The Drifting Housewife, I am the Supercargo, Careful as you go, Luck in Odd Numbers, Penumbra, Your Acting is like the End of the World.

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