A Diatribe on the State of Society as Told Through My Favourite Albums of 2019 (Thus Far)


The Comet is Coming ­– Trust In the Cosmic Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery

I yawned at The Comet is Coming live at Doug Fir, I must admit.

But I must also admit that I don’t know whether this made it a good avant-garde spacejazz show or a rather pisspoor one—see, I yawn at all concerts. I yawned at Judas Priest live three days later and I know that was because I was bored.

I don’t spend my days swimming amongst a cobweb collection of old Judas Priest records, I don’t own any—my period of metal is the early seventies what with Sabbath, Deep Purple and Iron Butterfly, I just need to add some Jeff Beck, Blue Cheer, Steppenwolfe and some early live Zeppelin. And I suppose I like Judas enough to give British Steel, Sin After Sin and Sad Wings of Destiny purchasing thoughts that probably won’t receive a follow-throughs, but the truth of it is hard metal and I had a hard divorce after 1982—shit I wasn’t even born and already metal and the amorphous collection of cells that were shitkicking the can down the road until I came screaming into this world had decided: no hair metal—the quantum severance package resulting from this polarity shift came grâce à Blue Öyster Cult and their record Fire of Unknown Origin, which showcased their wholehearted hat toss into the classic metal arena where they had previously spent their careers coddling the line between hard rock and metal, the same line which Led Zeppelin toed like ballerinas. Unfortunately for Judas Priest (and Iron Maiden for that matter,) they came in just at the time I was leaving; Aerosmith too was passed over for that Post-Punk Reggaeska sound of New Wave. Only AC/DC truly survived this musical holocaust and I’ll still bury them with a copy of Back in Black abreast of a bottle of Jack. You did good, Bon Scott, you did good. Unfortunately your successor, Brian Johnson, only got in as I closed the door behind me. The noise pollution may never die, but it can change scenes.

So what the fuck does this all have to do with The Comet is Coming anyways? Well, spacejazz, like that sticky late period of seventies hardrock/metal settled in the “meh” bin, Sun Ra, for all his austere swirling propheteering compositions, doesn’t affect the same pull that a simple hook from Trane, Davis, Monk, Getz, Baker, Rollins or Cannonball or Fela Kuti works me. Granted this is all time capsule work, and any new follower of the Arkestra is going to have to transcend past time, which is exactly what Danalogue, Betamax and King Shabaka achieve on Trust In the Cosmic Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery and worth me properly reciting that record’s babbling name. It sounds like a new age parody and in some ways, it is, with “Birth of Creation” introducing Shabaka Hutching’s menacing afrobeat sax as your chauffeur through this deserted electronic, non-ironic new Dali-wood world record. This is a highlighted change from their preceding record, Channel the Spirts, a jungling affair that not even Zaba can compete with (that said, Zaba has the melodies to go with the timbre, which will pull listeners into orbit far easier) and which worked hard to muddle any sense of melody we might need, rather abandoning us to slogging in the mudmuck of music. Thus Trust in the Lifeforce, made to be played live and for a solid thirty minutes, I was there—no yawns—just absolute dead concentrating on how this trio was a glorified series of assists to the saxophone-holding Hutchings. I guess some things just never change, but I don’t really want it to, because all those Rolands and Moogs and Rhodes only add up to noise and I want something to rampage through that noise like a roadrager through heavy traffic—I was quite certain that it was just the same sax solo with barely any variations besides tempo (but I’m not educated enough to be right on this matter) and I was also quite certain that if they kept going on that extended medley, someone would finally blow a vein and suffer a cerebral edema. Hutchings finished before that happened. Pity, it would have probably pushed that show into a memorable category. What it did do was heighten my respect for their latest record at a new level, because what I’d heard is what I got, plus some extended spacejazz jams (my favourite part of any late-eighties Grateful Dead show, I must admit). Hell, the sophomore effort itself is just an extended jam stretching only 45 minutes but sounds like a grand spinoff tale from the Planet Dune by the drum solo on “Timewave Zero,” brought home with (what else but) a Shabaka solo on “The Universe Wakes Up” before the LP just clicks back in at “Because The End is Really the Beginning.” However, at The Comet is Coming concert, I only began to open-wide in serial gormless form once the opening thirty minute melody had finished and my patience had worn thin with Danalogue’s vamping—about a 50 minute hard cap, unless your record/show is real special, hence why King Tuff and King Gizzard and K. Dot live are memories precious to me, the records were good and the sets were a non-stop feed of live wired electrocutionary sensibilities. As for the Comet is Coming, the rest of their time was fine, but it never had the same wired feel as their long-player. This show was just the extended deluxe remastered edition’s kicker re I’m still kicking myself for not buying an original copy at the Doug Fir so I could back home, slap it on and proceed not to yawn.

And in some ways I’m mad for constantly kicking myself, but really I’m just addicted. I like feeling down-on-my-luck and uncool. I get told I exceed expectations for most people and all I know is that I’m just a chameleon, the real me is extremely unhappy with his slice of life—it’s just never big enough, the vinyl collection is always left for wanting—mainly because he kicked himself while he was down in college and never applied for one of those fancy shmancy internships. Instead it’s all minimum wage from here, baby. In a way, I’ve chosen the way of the struggling artist, so I’m to blame, but I’m not blaming myself for a bowl of your pity; I just want another hit of my own. And if emotional self-harm is the hit, then music is the come-up, the peak and the comedown. It is the heroin, the morphine, the Oxycontin re opioid of my day, everyday. Hence why this isn’t just some confused show/record review for the Comet is Coming, but rather a megapiece on five records that managed to simultaneously relax me yet stir something more than just 200 words of written soundbyte reviews. Only Trust in the Lifeforce along with four other records did this. That’s not true, other records did this too, but these five did it best. And I’m just here to struggle and starve and write to them, hit after hit after hit.


Julia Jacklin – Crushing

But I can’t deny I am, as of this writing, still mad for not redacting myself on this faux-listicle after committing to only one a year, if anything because you’re starting to believe each successive longplayer to be better than the last and, well, that’s nowhere near the bleeding truth because if I had to stand on a hill and hemorrhage and die for one of these records, it’d probably be Crushing. Unfortunately, a fellow Atwooder picked her sophomore record and I, not being one to steal someone’s thunder—in writing that is, in conversation all bets are off—so I’m just gonna write about here in very plain terms: no one release an album of the year in the debut months. And so it should be immediately written off there, right? Wrong. The dearth of good records being released in February aside, it seemed like everyone was gearing up for an early Spring Cleaning of the tape archives to begin in March when Julia Jacklin jumped the gun and dropped this 39-minute mood colossal upon our sorry fucking asses, maybe she was confused by the seasonal switcheroo between the Southern and Northern hemisphere? No, you misogynist, get your head out of the gutter, what better time to release than early in the year, when no one is expecting it, so that when all the critics have to review their notes on potential albums of the year, they notice Jacklin all the way out there in fucking February, and, scoffing at the idea that someone would be so foolish to release out-of-season put it on only to melt to a runtime chockfull of those good Joni Mitchell/Joan Baez/Laura Marling vocalizations before dry-singing: “I raised my body up to be mine.” Well fuck me if I don’t have a list of girls I need to call up now for my piss-drunken rapscallion behavior that by any normal standard breathes creep in and out just to say I’m sorry on behalf of—no, not Julia—my former self. Except that talking about how much you’ve changed is about as effective as writing about it, so I’m just gonna sit here listenin’ and a-tappin’ my foot along to Jacklin as she lay down her laws for some r-e-s-p-e-c-t (all lowercase because that’s all anybody merits minimally. Save your capslock for those whose who might actually fucking deserve it; Aretha Franklin, Capt. Richard Winters, Sacagawea, Hua Mulan and le bon roi Henri IV all make my shortlist) and agreeing with every melody she fingerpicked to herself a million-times over, every falsetto howl she outbursts into and every word she penned straight to the humanist in every human. Because she’s not really talking about any somesuch fourthwave feminist power, she’s talking about relationships and boundaries:

“Started eating at your favourite place/
And I, I stopped eating with you/
You were always trying to force my taste/
But now I’m eating there ’cause I want to”

You don’t need a body-positive boygirlfriend to know this crushing feeling of domineering tastes—I remember the first time an on-again-off-again friend recommended I listen to Tom Petty as I inhaled a dab-and-a-half of 80-percent THC before staring straight-faced at him and then “no’d” that thought six-feet under the fucking foundations of his house at which point the mood shifted to a reprimand of my audaciousness to refuse his request in his fucking house. How close minded was I to shutdown his suggestions with such cold authority?! I don’t care, my relationship was that we shared good music suggestions, noodle some guitar licks and partook in the weediest of weeds, the boundary was Tom-fucking-Petty, who, just like Jackson Browne and early-period Eagles was just trying their best to sound like cowboy-rock competitors to their bumpkin jamband Southern rock contemporaries and who I would never listen to unless it was “Last Dance with Mary-Jane” on the car radio and I was feeling particularly guilty for saying no to listening to the same man who bled my ears out at every Blazers game giveaway parachute drop in the Rose Garden with “Freefallin.” Oh how I hate that song for being just about the biggest pussyfoot Freebird rock ballad before “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” came out and wiped out all other pretenders, “Freefallin’” included1. Nobody said this reasoning would be rational, but the boundary was overstepped and I said no and I want you to say that despite my understanding of this piece as you reading it for my recommendations among the thoughts, rambles and ideas, I hope you say no to at least one of them—mayhap even all of them!—no matter how hard I try to drag you screaming into my listening quarters for a session to Julia Jacklin’s Crushing, because lines like “How do I keep loving you/ Now that I know you so well” and  “I don’t care if you lie/ Breathe in, breath out/ You’re still a good guy” don’t normally pop up like daisies in February. If you like any of these records, just please let it be this one.

God, now I know my friend felt.

1I’ve been sorting through my parent’s CD collection and as much as I was incredibly impressed by their Eighties micro-conglomerate of college alternative, some hip-hop, alternative funk (aka Prince) and classic rock from stadium to intimate, I must confess to knocking major points off for Bat Out of Hell II, not that this a controversial opinion, just that my parent’s CD collection took a serious hit for allowing the Meat Loaf abomination into its gates. Alas, I digress.

And to be honest, there’s always the chance that I’m just conforming in some way, either by tuning in or out based on some preconceived notion, hell, I’ve barely listened to any rap this year; I’m not the most knowledgeable in anything but my Soulquarian movement; I’ve yet to give IGOR a spin. But I’m hoping to save it for my end-of-year palooza, I like to keep some good records for that time of year, hence why I didn’t start raving on Against All Logic’s 2012-2017 until a full year later, I mean, who needs release dates anyways? All you writers looking to stay hot-to-topic, fuck me reviews shouldn’t need be made in three days, they gotta live with you for a while. Hence these companion thoughts made directly as the record plays. Hence why I am tangential to the max. I don’t think I’m smart, I just think my brain is hyperactive. I think I’m anxious. I bet you I’ve majorly depressed. But I dunno, I’ve never been medicated for it, I only saw a shrink once to get over a non-romantic breakup. I guess I’m just a fragile wide-mouthed glass cannon of opinions shooting off on things from singular observations rather than astoundingly deep knowledge. I’m god awful at hounding sources and dropping ledes, so don’t come to me for news. I’m just reacting in my own delayed way. It’s weird.


Orville Peck –  Pony

Yet if weird has been your keyword for the present year (really have the headlines stopped reading like Onion parodies yet?) then I hope you’ve been listening to Orville Peck. Here is the queer cowboy of your dreams, shoving the heteronormativity and turning country on it’s binary-head, a homosexual man writing about them easy Rodeo Boys and Girls, roadside prostitutes walking the loneliest highways of America and steelhorse cowboys burning the midnight oil. Classic Subpop, I mean where did they find this woke country poke? He’s got plenty of Johnny Cash and Marty Robbins in him to keep up the costume and he is a heartthrob à la Elvis or Chris Isaak what with that voice. At least, he might be if it weren’t for his streamer style mask, it must get hot under those ribbons of leather. Yet the Zorro effect is quite the attirant. So we’re only left with clues cut and slapped on record; so does the music actually speak to the man? Yes and no, the LGBTQ+ effect was never heavily applied until the cameras were out for music videos, before it only mattered if you listened to the lyrics, which I did and came to wondering if he was actually straight which he isn’t (Billboard solved that real quick) not that it matters which makes it kinda great; it’s just music about the constant tour and the sexual frustrations and experiments that happen on it. It’s conceit is delirious in its affection for rendering distance both geographical (“Kansas,” “Big Sky”) or interpersonal (“Dead of Night,” “Queen of the Rodeo” “Hope to Die”) or both at the same time (“Winds of Change,” “Nothing Fades Like the Light”). See I’m glad the beer is no longer a lyrical device but just a given; of course there are beers on ice, he’s a fucking country singer. But no car, no dog, no women needs get lost. Every muse on this record is already lost, no questions asked. And the on-the-road relationships might only mean deleterious ends, but damnit what’s a young man with a dick to do? Break and be broken, young man, go west, young man. And Orville Peck actually did it, he went West for Reno, eased back East to Topeka, headed South for the border and then he turned round, mumbling something or other about Montana and a date with a big blue sky. This is the first time I’ve actually listened to the record since writing my impressions on it, which might reflect well on it’s memorability, but I think it’s just the product Working As Intended. A long-player long on tour come back home for a week or two before heading out again. I don’t need to listen to it every year, just for moments. The hooves on this Pony are tenderizing and sometimes a single listen is enough. That it has been entered into my “old friend” category is a credit to how long-lived this record should live in the collection, even if I’m waiting on the funds for that vinyl store visit2 but I guess these are not weird reasons to irrationally respect a record like this (a debut one, too!), so I’ll be tangential about it.

2I’ve already got my shopping list: one copy of Pony, one copy of The Seduction of Kansas, one copy of Tasmania(more on both soon), one copy of Trust in the Lifeforce, one copy of Crushing, one copy of the new Tame Impala, one copy of PostEarth, a copy of Fishing for Fishies and Flying Microtonal Banana each, one copy of Bottle It In, one copy of all Courtney Barnett’s stuff, one copy of Live at KEXP!, one copy of 2012-2017, one copy of Electric Warrior, one copy of Your Saving Grace, one copy of Brave New World, one copy Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs, one copy of Portland Memorial Colosseum 5/19/1974, one copy of The Chic Corporation and one deluxe copy of Physical Graffiti. All looking to set me back a solid near-grand when what I really need doing is to upgrade my record player and finally grab a preamp, easily another half grand. It’d be a tough choice, maybe I’ll need a compromise, perhaps just grab everything up to the Against All Logic record. Yeah, that could be found cheap enough so I can grab a preamp and be halfway there. Which ever path, all five of my favourite midyear records are already picked for home.

See, what’s weird is I wouldn’t have reviewed this record as fast I did—but I did—only just now I’ve listened to it again and realized why I called my grandmother in Minnesota in a fever pitch to rave to her why she should listen to this record: it was summer, I was 14, my sister Rachel and I were roadtripping with our grandparents all the way from their newly fabbed farmhouse in Northern Minnesota to our hillside boxhome in Beaverton, a suburb of Portland, but I like to say I’m from Portland anyways, so fuck it: we drove from Hill City, Minnesota to Portland, Oregon over the course of three days. And when I say our house was a hillside boxhome, I mean that legoblock of house should slide down the mountain any earthquake now. It’s a threefloor bungalow castle on crannogsticks and when the ground starts to wobble, it’ll snap that toothpick palace and send it right into the ravine to stack up with the rest of it’s ill-conceived neighbors. Digressing our destination was far away—and in the deserted east of Montana, home was ever a word of hope image of smoke, lithe and long from your fingers. The word desolate only serves to adequately describe only two places on this earth: the Australian Outback and the east of Montana, this never seemed so obvious as when traversing the US 12, meandering under a sky so big it would dwarf any Tower of Babel modern or antique. The ocean was above us; Lakes? A dream behind us; Doug-Firs? One before us. After a month away, I had made myself at home among the familiar glens and meadows of my grandparents’ farm. I wouldn’t wake up until 10 at the earliest. I would practice cutthroat pool; my uncle Nate and I would grill cheese sandwiches with onion as an optional extra; I was house guitarist for our Rock Band band; I would attend graduation parties, but I wouldn’t drink; I would have felt guilty for both that and the constant masturbation (four weeks on a remote farm? You do that math) because on the inside I really was still a club member for Weenies Hut Jr. I was just insecure and horny about it. Too much time, not enough responsibility, you might suppose, but I say not enough creativity. “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” you might say, but I’d say it feels more paradise found for but minutes in the life of a lazy sot, like mine was, like mine were. Mostly, I was a gregarious anti-social—shyness was still a lil sport move I could still pull, despite a foot’s difference since the last time I visited—I still hated most people, I was indifferent toward my cousins’ friends (an improvement!) and by the end of any vacation, I hated myself; perhaps that’s how I knew it was a vacation, even though I acted like it wasn’t. And I both loved and hated the middle of Montana, finally ceded free from the local country cacophonia of our Grandparents’ CD collection; I had just discovered Zeppelin (only the hits) and I reviled country. But we all finally agreed in compromise to listen to silence. We reached an object on the horizon; it was a farmhouse. Abandoned. A car rusted in the lot, metal fried under the sun, wood warped. I could hear nothing but the groan of the road, the bumps on the asphalt, my pulse was in my ears. That was the sound I remember of Montana, the sound of a boring, terrifying, awesome open road, the horror of ghost towns on the horizon. The sound of Pony.

2I’ve already got my shopping list: one copy of Pony, one copy of The Seduction of Kansas, one copy of Tasmania(more on both soon), one copy of Trust in the Lifeforce, one copy of Crushing, one copy of the new Tame Impala, one copy of PostEarth, a copy of Fishing for Fishies and Flying Microtonal Banana each, one copy of Bottle It In, one copy of all Courtney Barnett’s stuff, one copy of Live at KEXP!, one copy of 2012-2017, one copy of Electric Warrior, one copy of Your Saving Grace, one copy of Brave New World, one copy Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs, one copy of Portland Memorial Colosseum 5/19/1974 and one deluxe copy of Physical Graffiti. All looking to set me back a solid near-grand when what I really need doing is to upgrade my record player and finally grab a preamp, easily another half grand. It’d be a tough choice, maybe I’ll need a compromise, perhaps just grab everything up to the Against All Logic record. Yeah, that could be found cheap enough so I can grab a preamp and be halfway there. Which ever path, all five of my favourite midyear records are already picked for home.


Pond – Tasmania

But I fully expect that record to be forgotten like a high school friend’s number, left for a technological stumbling on the vespers of inebriated escapes, a fleck of gold, found and called and hung up to be lost again; the Tom Bombadil of your 21st century address book. See, some albums are so great, they do us a favor to make sure we don’t remember them—only so when we relisten to them, we get a single perfect listen. This is not in the same fashion as muzak; I’ve listened to Currents enough times to merit a multi-yearlong break before next listen. Same with any Zeppelin record or John Coltrana But with records like In Colour by Jamie xx, Sticky Fingers by the Stones or Travelling Without Moving by Jamiroquai or for some reason or another, any of Miles Davis’. I routinely forget how good Sketches of Spain and Nerfertiti are. I’m routinely struck by the little moments, the vast space in between the crazy blink-and-you’ll-miss-it peaks. These are friends that don’t require your time; but will improve it in unfailing fashion, creative sparkplugs to the battery so to speak. But one you forget to charge or text every once in a while.

Enter Pond’s latest longer-player, Tasmania, to be forgotten by me once that mophead Kevin Parker finally releases that goddamn Impala album this year or the next (he’s such a goddamn tease, I say with love). Which is a goddamn shame, Impala, because were it not for you then Tasmania, and really Pond’s entire career would never have left Australia. And like it or not, Pond always gets written by the common psychonaut as the Kevin Parker backer band—and despite this warrant for their early career as a mutual symbiosis for both projects, I myself only find Beard, Wives and Denim to be overwhelmingly memorable precisely as it separates from their MGMT/Impala influences—if for just a brief moment—while critics have written them up as being abreast if not leading “the movement.” Well, I don’t buy that for an instant either, if anybody’s pushing this damn musical effervescence from it’s King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Flightless coop, bric-a-bracking together a competitor to the likes of Elephant Six or the Animal Collective, i.e. neo-psychedelic history, and Pond just can’t compete with that level of musical-social engineering, no matter how wide they and Kevin Parker cracked open the door. What they can claim however, is a damn good follow up to The Weather, a topper to an upward trend since Man, It Feels Like Space Again, divided into an “upbeat-side” and a “downbeat-side,” one for all the Oracular Spectacular fans and one for all Congratulations diehards, still thumping on about its clear and undebatable *huffs* SUPERIORITY to the former. Really it just reminds of the Dead’s Blues for Allah, what with a side for jamming and a side for spacing. Where Blues does the ancient Caliphate crossing caravan, Tasmania crafts a requiem for a dying Adelbaran while notching more wins in Nick Allbrook’s book of damn fine poetry, none better than the faceup to political realities on “Hand Mouth Dancer” (“So you got political, can you speak on that?/ I didn’t get political, I just faced the facts/ Is it critical we react?”) or the pure desperation of the commons in a country run by rabble with “The Boys are Killing Me” (“I’m lucky, I’m lucky, I’m lucky just to sleep at night, oh/ So we linked arms and we staggered off into the night/ Drunk, but overjoyed just to be employed”). It’s not all doom and gloom either as the band takes time to do the good thoughts, bad thoughts routine on “Burnt Out Star” and give us the Carl Sagan rap that at the end of the day, we’re just star stuff—“a way for the Cosmos to know itself.” And I don’t want to sound trite in gushing “WOW, THEY ARE SO BRAVE,” or rant on the merits of their commentary being a keystone moment for socially conscious psychedelia because it would all amount to a circular psychotropic diatribe trying to prove that Pond actually is *huffs* OBJECTIVELY BETTER THAN TAME IMPALA, LEMME TELL YOU. That’s not what it’s about here, it’s about what has been rather than what will be, the joy of the moment-thing and all that entails, so enjoy the death rattles of society, read some Léo as it sobs and moans, regard some of your buddy’s art as it hacks and coughs, and find yourself a Tasmania to breath in that fresh air before it’s all gone.


Priests – The Seduction of Kansas

Well, I did all of this and still found myself unable to console my wondering brain: how did we get here? Answers came to mind, some more sophisticated than others, some intricately linked together: pride, laziness, coal, oil, corporate consolidation, true-wage compression, Alan Greenspan and his easy-money, fifty years of “middle class” tax cuts for the wealthy, the Telecommunications Act of 1997, Rupert Murdoch, automation, woeful religious interpretation, automobilism, foreign proprietors, Ethics of Care, anti-vaxxing and other new crystal-bitch fuckery, Republican zealot-senators and limp-wristed Democrat reps, all transforming us into neoliberal policy addicts for cheap consumer electronics re goods re “a life worth living.” Well, those make up many parts of a product and bad parts make bad products. And society as we structured it is a bad product, saving the human race by destroying the soil it lives on—what a steal!—and no amount of cheap new age hippie-isms are gonna save you from that fact if my heart of darkness is correct, because I’m certain the Neo-Nazis and other brownshirt-jackboot paramilitaries are gonna win, precisely as they don’t wear that traditional-authoritarian shit no more. They wear think-tank badges and business suits and slick Wall Street haircuts, working on computers with brass bull balls for screensavers and playing a video game called life all while spouting about more tax cuts, small business and Making [Country] Great Again if it means laundering their Russian/Panamian/Swiss bank accounts to their global ventures while doing nothing to stem a tide of new robotics here to take your corporate-sponsored-valium-popping neighbor Billy Bjornson’s dead-end decal factory job as he laps up their shit and thanks them for defending his right to stockpile enough weapons to overthrow the fragile African democracy we are inevitably becoming in order to protect his country from those “goddam transgender librul’s and their vegan mohametan allies” while all of us goddamn liberals keep getting demoralized by whitebread identity-politic democrats with barely an ounce of courage are consistently outwitted by an impossibly infuriating conservative sense for political decorum in preserving the power structure of the corporate lettuce feeders. And thus we leave the political arena because we think it’s all rigged (true) for the benefit of some poor white ruralist (untrue). The only thing it’s rigged for is to keep us stupid as Haliburton, Comcast and Amazon run off with all the fucking money to their underground bunkers in Appalachia, the Swiss Alps or the Northern Rockies. Has been that way since a thief finally settled on the land he stole and needed convincing the local populace that he earned it and it will probably stay that way until our species survives some localized nuclear holocausts. I hope I die in the nuclear blast, myself, and I’m willing to download my conscious into a mechanical host to wait until it happens. I won’t try to cause it, but I sure as shit don’t mind dying in it, just so long as get to keep a copy of The Seduction of Kansas by Priests and this email I wrote to no one in particular but a figment of my overactive imagination:

To: postpunkur1979@yahoo.com

From: howdidyougetthis@email.com

Subject: A listening suggestion during the newfound halcyon days of restlessness

Well, I’ve been doing some thinking (always dangerous), and I know you haven’t really listened to anything new since Franz Ferdinand up and blew your mind on their first shot only for Interpol to release Antics seven months later and leave your 2004 bookended quite nicely, but I suppose just about now, in 2019, that we should be asking ourselves a new question, lest we never and have this whole thing blow over us: just how exactly did we not expect post-punk to make not one but two comebacks in our new millennium?

How exactly do we not expect any genre at this point not to make some form of comeback or leave some impression on some art college reject (inclusively rejecting of or rejected by) holed up in a bedroom or a garage listening to records-upon-records of jangling, technobopping, musique concrete flirting, new wave waxing, post-punk vagaries at volumes too loud for their parents’ Christian homes. See when, in the age of Instagram feeds (perhaps the greatest archive of the commons with a shot to be recovered by some betentacled alien or Earthling civilization circa 100 million years from now, finally managing to decrypt our databits and reassemble them into the millennial Calima: dickbutt) we no longer need worry about the word phase. Replaced, it has been, by new netslang slung by fingers swyping. The difference is recurrence; if it happens once it’s just a fad, thus 1979; if it happens again it’s a renaissance, thus 1999; if it happens a third time, it’s an aesthetic, thus 2019. The movement is a filter now, an overlay on your profile record just as much as it is a delay or reverb on your record. Good. I couldn’t think of anything better; this is the same genre that birthed us The Police, The Talking Heads, disposed itself to the The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the White Stripes and now undergoes exploitation of everyone looking to add fashionable iconoclasm to their art: Parquet Courts, Iceage, Protomartyr, Drahla and, for my pick of the post-punk album of the year, Priests’ The Seduction of Kansas. A throwback look, if ever there was one, to the Topeka punk scene during the Regan administration; an aural accompaniment to Stranger Things days of horror submerged in Eighties fluff, substituting the Demogorgon’s for the whiteteeth-lying politickers and the stark industrialism for a good surfrock riff, while keeping that barnhouse reverb and fuzz—Footloose with some actual angst—all demonstrating the budgeted wasteland of middle America rife with the new breeds of armchair philosophers and mental health nuts and speed freaks that we call neighbors, if not ourselves. This might not fill your gullet with the same coolismo as your dearly beloveds, but it might just remind you that in 1979 Elvis Costello was drawing on Americana to define a new aesthetic of beatnik punk. And if 100,000 years from now, when the Edenites arrive on our planet’s burnt out husk, I hope by freak chance this remains the only record left on an Apple server readily available for download. Because I expect them to immediately destroy it for its blasphemous sound, but not before it freaks them right out of their unisex bathrooms, kale-lined plates and purplepicket spaceships. Conservatives, pah!, they never change.



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About BenJamsToo

An insane man moonlighting as a respectable member of society from Portland, Oregon. A rock ‘n’ roller since his mother first spun The Police’s “Roxanne,” Ben is a lover of all things rock, soul, funk, jazz, blues, electronic and hip-hop. Perhaps it’s easier to list what he doesn’t like: most gangsta rap, country-western and modern metal disagrees with his stomach. Once upon a time, a friend told him to write about music. So he started doing that under the title of a Willie Bobo cover by Santana. Now he wonders about what Stu McKenzie has for breakfast, why John Congleton is the best damn record producer this side of the millennium and just how Common came to be his favourite hip-hop star. He’s been working on that last one for nearly a decade now. No answers yet.