Sunday, December 31, 2017

My Top 4 Favorite Albums of 2017 by Adam Harmless

    There's been a lot of killer music coming out this year. So much so, in fact, that I'm having a difficult time narrowing down my faves. A "Top 10" list feels impossible to manage. How can one pack so many different sounds and ideas into such an arbitrary number? I very nearly flaked out on writing this article, an assignment that I'd made up for myself in the first place. But then I looked at this idea from a different angle. As much as I moan and fuss over making such a tight list, it's actually easier the smaller the list gets. "Top 4" is waaaay less effort to work out than "Top 10", and not just because it would, in theory, be less than half the writing. It's just so much simpler to figure out my 4 by looking at the 2017 CDs still living in my car. These discs continue to be the soundtrack to my travels and I imagine they will continue to be well into 2018.

Trash Cats - Wardcore
This is a nasty little band that just seemed to pop up in the Huntsville area outta nowhere. Punk rock with acoustic guitars and a washboard. Honest and spirited and evil and damaged and pure energy. (You can check out my slightly longer, and perhaps even less helpful, review here.)

The Go-Go Killers - Hallucinogenitalia
The Go-Go Killers have been around for a while now and have released several noisy rackety "Wreck'N'Roll" albums. I hold all of them close to my heart, but this one just blows his older siblings away. Everything about this double album is richer and "bigger". Somehow more challenging and accessible at the same time. (Check out my longer review here.)

Dead Cross - ST
Everybody knows that I'm a big Faith No More fan going way back to my formative teen years. I loved every album they did, regardless of the line-up. I liked Mr. Bungle and bits and pieces of Mike Patton's many other projects over the years and worshiped his work ethic, but I gotta admit, I'd kinda stopped listening to most of his stuff. Of course, it'd be really easy for me to miss some of his output, but what I had heard just somehow wasn't blowing me away. Dead Cross blows me away!! This is hyper-hardcore. It's heavy and faaaaast and brutal and weird. And they covered Bauhaus! (I haven't previously posted a review of this record online, but there is one in GAD! Zine Issue 15. I'll probably post it on this site soonish.) 

Primitive Race - Soul Pretender
Teenage Adam could never have dreamed that both Faith No More singers Mike Patton and Chuck Mosley would each put out a brilliant record in the same year. But somehow it happened in 2017. Primitive Race + Chuck Mosley + Dale Crover = Everything wonderful about 80's and 90's Alternative + More. This is the album we've been waiting for and didn't know it. Chuck croons and rambles and kinda-raps and rises to the challenge of powerful well-crafted music. His lyrics are idiosyncratic and dark. The melodies are beautiful. The production is excellent. I listened the FNM's Introduce Yourself after this disc and it sounded so small in comparison. I fear that Chuck's passing shortly after this release will overshadow the accomplishments of this album. Don't want that to happen. I got to talk to Chuck in person this summer and he was telling folks how bad-ass this album was going to be. He was usually self-deprecating and modest (to a fault), but he could not hold back his excitement for Soul Pretender. He knew that he was a part of something special and knew that his fans would love it. You were right, Chuck. (Full review here.)   -Harmless

Monday, December 11, 2017

Review: Owls And Other Animals & Trash Cats - Happy Birthday Xmas It's Your Birthday

The perfect cover.
    Now, this is my kinda Christmas album! Owls & Other Animals and The Trash Cats (the other other animals??) have teamed up to deliver us a perfect soundtrack for shoving the ol' plastic tree into the fireplace and sitting back and inhaling the fumes. These folks send up the seasonal standards in a fragile, vulnerable lo-fi acoustic set. Whisper-crooning classics like "White Xmas" in a tunnel of introspection. Beauty in the shaky basics. Raw. Another kinda raw is the hellbent hollerin' version of "Grandma Got Run Over" that ain't for the kiddies. Or the adults. Chaos. Hilarity. It is rare to find a holiday release so wobbly, stripped down, schizophrenic, and.... honest. This is what real and interesting people have playing in the background when they laugh and cry and spill their drinks and spill their guts. I dunno who's idea it was to put these two groups together, but what they have created is nothing short of a Christmas miracle! -Harmless

Monday, December 4, 2017

Review: Trash Cats - Wardcore

Haven’t had the pleasure to catch this trio live (YET), but they are no doubt a ton of sleazy fun. And maybe a bit of introspection. Alcoholic Appalachian acoustic crust-punk. Not so much cowpunk. More like hillbilly gutterpunk. And kinda um... satanic. Briscoe Darling hocked a loogie on a pet cemetery during a full moon. That snot grew a brain, picked up a guitar, and started singing his heart out. To recap: Mucous grew a brain AND a heart, but the heart is gone, because he sang it out. The bass is deep and sad and as real as an AA meeting. And... Hey, where are the drums? No drums. Washboard. Because fuck you. -Harmless   

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