Words have to be really good to make me like a song more. The only appropriate topics to sing about are: death, love, ennui, apathy, ecstasy, mystery, and confusion. I also accept lyrics if I don't understand the words that are being said at all, or their meaning is apparently highly personal and I can't directly relate. Kurt Vile's new record has all too many songs that imply some of those topics but stay in the realm of tedium instead, and it really has a negative impact on the songs for me, which I enjoy otherwise.
The things that I highlight each month are often things that I've listened to ~10 times already, and I'm still willing to listen to them. I'm finding that these days, on repeated listens, songs wear on me and sounds grow on me, and a lot of things has to do with words. Sounds often demand less and give more. There are exceptions to this, though, and this month has some notable ones! I've listed songs at the top for those of who you haven't joined the electronic music cult yet.
This month I actually have two best LPs, and they're a bit similar in a way. They're both concise, satisfying releases from bands who were formed over 20 years ago.
(Folk and Rock albums:)
Best LP: The Telescopes - Hidden Fields
I just got this a week ago and I've already listened to it a dozen times. Sometimes, it ends and I have no idea what to put on next, so I put it on again. The Telescopes were originally MBV/JAMC contemporaries who made really aggressive shoegaze back when shoegaze was a thing. This record is sort of like the new Swans records in the sense that it's pretty different and much better. Unlike the new Swans records, it fits on one LP instead of 3. Rejoice!
Other Best LP: Wilco - Star Wars
Glamericana! New genre. My best paintings these days happen quickly and without too much forethought (It's actually the only way I paint). I get the feeling that Tweedy's songs are like this lately, too. You might have to really like Wilco and T. Rex and Bob Dylan and Sonic Youth and The Beatles and Sic Alps to like this. For me, it's been quite a pleasant surprise because I like all those artists.
Best Garage LP: Thee Tsunamis - Saturday Night Sweetheart
Bubblegum garage punk is alive and well in 2015. Each song takes on a familiar set of sounds from musical lineages, but the influences are well chosen and well assembled, and the songs are hooky and sometimes ridiculous. My summer fun pick of the month for sure.
Best Folk Album: Gillian Grogan - Five Feet Small
It's not often that you get to listen to an album being played on your home system while the person who wrote, sang, and mastered it is sitting next to you. I had this singular experience with Gillian last month and I was pleasantly surprised to find that, in addition to being a swell human being, she was exactly my kind of folk singer!
Best Garage Demo(s): Fernando & the Teenage Narcs - Can I buy some drugs to smoke later / Teen Narcs in Space / Fernando don't Surf
I think this band has been around for like, a month. They might be around for a few more months. Every few weeks they release 7 minutes of new songs to bandcamp and so far it's an amazing combination of sophisticated and dumb. They cover New York Dolls and Swell Maps on the first two, and generally combine punk and glam sounds from the 70s with modern West Coast garage. Also, check the Refry records banner that is the Black Flag logo but in smoking cigarettes. Classic.
Best Kurt Vile LP: Kurt Vile - B'lieve I'm Goin Down...
I am annoyed a lot of things about this record, but I like a lot of other things, too. I mentioned it above and it's better than his last record, so I figured I'd list it here. I won't say anything more about it now but I'd love to discuss it at length if you've listened.
Best Tape: Color Plus - Netcika
A quick tape from a talented young man from New York. It's really fun to listen to and combines abstract sound with breaks and weird bass beats. It's the most compulsively listenable thing that happened to me all month.
Best 12": Entro Senestre - ES
This whole 12" just lopes along and would be a great soundtrack to a night drive through a city without a lot of streetlights (so probably somewhere midwestern if we're being honest). From the 2-step shuffle of "SB Dauntless" to the ambient breakbeats of "TriState" to the propulsive "DOHC," there's a lot to appreciate here.
Best Outsider Techno LP: Body Boys - No Face
This is a surprisingly good distillation of modern techno] from the lo-fi end of the spectrum. This might be up there with Michael DeMaio's tape from this year, but I do like that this is on vinyl and is a little easier to put on when other humans are present.
Best Abstract LP: 214 - North Bend
Remember when Dirty Projectors tried to cover Black Flag's "Damaged" from memory? I think this some dude trying to do that with Autechre's Incunabula. Or more like, Incunabula filtered through a world that has experienced dubstep, bass, and footwork in the intervening years.
Best Outsider House 12": U - We Decide Who Comes In
This one just wormed its way into my brain and carved itself a nice little niche alongside the hazy house and techno I've been listening to all year. The contrast between the smoke and the breakbeats on the B side is particularly nice.
Best Bass 7": Clap! Clap! - Camo Fever
This is probably the most unabashed fun I've had listening to music all year. I would consider dancing if they played this shit at dance parties.
I'll leave you with some random quotes with discardable context and no forum for discussion:
"I have some criticism about your criticism."
"The problem with being on the bleeding edge is all the blood."
"I bet the person who invented drip coffee thought they were real clever."
"I really want to throw away my trash can, I just don’t know where to put it."