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A Certain Smile Adorable Bad Moves Cold Soda Conor Oberst Courtney Barnett Death Cab for Cutie Hutch Harris Imaginary Scoop Los Campesinos! Martha Math and Physics Club Monnone Alone Nana Grizol Say Sue Me Spiritualized Sun Breaks Superchunk Superorganism The Beths The Breeders The Spook School Tomo Nakayama Tullycraft Unlikely Friends Who Is She? Young Scum

Liz’s Favorite 7 Albums and 23 Songs and Various Things of 2018

I know I’m not the only one who thinks 2018 has been one of the most challenging years as of late. Thankfully, there are a bunch of albums and songs and things that helped me smile now and again.

Let’s stop trying to wax poetic about lessons learned or about hopes and dreams for 2019 and jump right into the lists and get listening. These albums and songs and reissues and videos and various other favorite things will surely put a bigger smile on your face faster than anything I write ever could.

My Favorite Albums of 2018:

(1) Math & Physics Club – Lived Here Before

{buy this album} {band website} {link to 100s of MAPC posts on TIG}

This album breaks and mends my heart for many reasons. I’ve been a big fan of MAPC since the early days (of MAPC and of TIG) and have loved every song and every show.

MAPC’s Lived Here Before album wasn’t a departure from their previous materials, but a growth spurt. They kept their signature guitar complexities and soft, sweet melodies but they leaped forward with a confidence and swagger that would have surprised all of us 2003 MAPC fans.

It’s worth mentioning that this album serves as a worthy good-bye to MAPC as we know them. Eight months after this album’s release, MAPC’s guitarist and founding member, James Werle passed away. To state what you probably already know: James was a treasure who was as kind as he was smart. We will forever miss him and his friendship.

Treat yourself: Along with all the other usual formats, the album is available on heavyweight blue 12″ vinyl while supplies last.

 

(2) Unlikely Friends – Crooked Numbers

{buy this album} {band’s facebook page} {TIG album review}

This Seattle / Tacoma / Olympia band wrote one of my favorite albums of the year. It’s chock full of fun lo-fi rock songs laden with visceral stressed-out adultness, fears of complacency, and tales of compromise and regret {I love that kinda combo}.

Treat yourself: Rather than going the usual vinyl record route for this release, UF released a limited edition cassette version (as well as in the usual digital and cd formats).

 

(3) The Beths – Future Me Hates Me

{buy this album} {band website} {TIG live show review}

You know when your life is missing something and then you find it in the form of a perfect record? That’s the fulfillment I get from Future Me Hates Me. Glory be to Chris Estey for knowing so much about music and me to recommend them to me earlier this year.

The Beths are a scrappy indie-pop band from New Zealand. They buck the slick synth trends to make charged songs that are frank and fun, truthful and playful. They made their first stop in Seattle earlier this year and it was just amazing as you’d think. Listen / watch their KEXP instudio and, if you’re interested, find out how their show at the Timbre Room went (with the TIG live show review).

Treat yourself: It’s no wonder that the vinyl version of their debut album keeps selling out. You can buy a pretty pretty colored vinyl version (currently in transparent aqua and on it’s 3rd pressing at the time of this post).

 

(4) Superorganism – Superorganism

{buy this album} {band website} {TIG review of their Bumbershoot set}

This debut album by Superorganism is art-pop that’s slightly psychedelic and positively wry and rambunctious. I’m pretty sure I’m not cool enough to listen to this album, let alone sing along to any of the songs, but I’m trying.

Superorganism is a new-ish band of 8 folks, based in London and this is their debut album.

The band initially started as a casual recording project with members based in multiple countries, across the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia. Most of the members of had met online in music forums and via mutual friends over a number of years. In researching all this I found out that members of Superorganism are also in another band – The Eversons – who gave the world the song, “Creepy” – which I love.

Treat yourself: For Father’s Day, I treated my hubs to the deluxe vinyl version of this album (which comes with a thick booklet and a glow in the dark sleeve, perfect for gazing at while listening to this album). OK, it was kinda actually a gift for myself… I mean US! You can also get this album on standard vinyl, deluxe cd, or bandcamp download.

 

(5) Bad Moves – Tell No One

{buy this album}

Tell No One is the first record by Bad Moves, a power pop band from Washington D.C. The album is more spunky than poppy and more DIY than glitz, which is just the way I love it. Their song “Cool Generator” has been on constant rotation in my head and my hope is that once everyone else falls in love with it, I can recite the lines “you and me, we got a cool generator” and it will be known as a widely-accepted show of affection.

Treat yourself: Go old school and get the vinyl version of this album on classic black vinyl.

 

(6) Hutch Harris – Only Water

{buy this album} {artist website}

This album is the first solo release by Hutch Harris in the post-Thermals phase of his life. I have always loved the handful of songs that Hutch released under the Thermals solo side-project Forbidden Friends (and watched this video on repeat) so when I saw that he had this whole album of solo stuff for the world to enjoy, I crossed my fingers really hard hoping it would be of the FF ilk. And it is!!! It feels confidential and frank. It’s soft and entrancing with vocals that make me feel like he is whispering secrets in the my ear.

Treat yourself: This album is only available in digital format so you can buy it and feel wonderfully minimalist and DIY at the same time.

 

(7) Nana Grizol – Theo Zumm

{buy this album} {album review}

This is not your usual Nana Grizol album. Theo Zumm is a trip back in time, to the early days of Nana Grizol and it’s treasure trove of demos and unreleased secrets. It’s a 25 minute-long album of 20 songs recorded from 2003-2005 in Athens, Georgia and Bloomington, Indiana. As Theo describes it, “some of the songs became Nana Grizol full-band jams, some did not, some were modified greatly.”

For me, the album is an insider’s mixtape of lo-fi, DIY punk stabs (along the lines of Theo’s other, highly recommended, band: Defiance, Ohio) and ditties that warm my heart with exposed chords and immediate emotions. The collection is a living room show for the senses.

As I do with every mention of NG I make, I must urge you to also go listen to their first album, Love It Love It (which is an album that will change your life and is one of my favorite albums of all time).

Treat yourself: Theo Zumm is available on sturdy vinyl and digital download on bandcamp.

 

My Favorite Songs of 2018:

Want more? Me tooooo! Here are the songs that I highly recommend listening to on repeat. They aren’t in order of most favorite. They are in order of best flow on a mixtape.

{You can hear selected tracks on this spotify list}

Note: The Nana Grizol, Hutch Harris, and Tomo Nakayama songs aren’t on Spotify (at the time I’m typing this), so go listen to them on Bandcamp (on repeat).

(1) Unlikely Friends – “All the Cameras in Japan {buy}

Unlikely Friends wrote an one of the best albums of 2018. It’s chock full of fun lo-fi rock songs laden with visceral stressed-out adultness, fears of complacency, and tales of compromise and regret {I love that kinda combo}.

(2) Math and Physics Club – “Marblemouth” {buy}

I’ve been a big fan of MathAndPhysicsClub since the early days (of MAPC and of TIG) and have loved every song and every show, so it’s probably no surprise that “Lived Here Before” by MAPC is at the top of my favorite albums of 2018 list.

(3) Superorganism – “Nobody Cares”  {buy}

The debut album by Superorganism is art-pop that’s slightly psychedelic and positively wry and rambunctious. I’m pretty sure I’m not cool enough to listen to this album, let alone sing along to any of the songs, but I’m trying.

(4) The Beths Whatever {buy}

You know when your life is missing something and then you find it in the form of a perfect record? That’s the fulfillment I get from the Beth’s debut album, “Future Me Hates Me.” Glory be to Chris Estey for knowing so much about music and me to recommend them to me.

(5) Bad Moves Cool Generator  {buy}

The album “Tell No One” is a spunky pop gem! I especially ❤️ the song “Cool Generator” and enjoy regularly (and albeit awkwardly) inserting lyrics from it into conversation.

(6) Nana Grizol – “Circles ‘Round The Moon” {buy}

“Theo Zumm” by Nana Grizol is an insider’s mixtape of lo-fi, DIY punk stabs and ditties that warm my heart with exposed chords and immediate emotions. The album is a living room show for the senses.

(7) Hutch Harris – “I Will Try To Forget You” {buy}

The album “Only Water” feels confidential &frank. It’s soft & entrancing with vocals that make me feel like secrets are being whispered in the my ear.

(8) The Spook School – “Alright (sometimes)” {buy}

I’ve listened to “Alright (sometimes)” by The Spook School on repeat because it’s incredibly catchy, but also because it’s lyrics delve brilliantly into, among other things, depression and the comfort of true friendship.

(9) Courtney Barnett – “Nameless, Faceless” {buy}

“Nameless, Faceless” by Courtney Barnett is a brilliant skewering of the male / female double standard & is a great FU to misogynistic excuses. Also, CB’s guitar parts are soooo choice.

(10) Tomo Nakayama – “Keep On Movin” {buy}

I wonder if the world deserves to have a song as beautiful as “Keep On Movin” by Tomo Nakayama. It’s a lovely battle anthem in response to the regime’s inhumane immigration and refugee policies. I’ll go to any protest that has Tomo on the bill. PS – all sales of this song go to the ACLU.

(11) Martha – “Heart is Healing” {buy}

“Heart is Healing” by Martha was a late 2018 treat. It was given to the world as a single without any extra b-sides or album news. Just a sweet little kick of Martha-style indie-brit-popcore-punk to help get us through Q4. They are one of my favorite bands ever and this song made me fall in love with them even more.

(12) Young Scum – “Wasting Time” {buy}

I sure I’m not the first one to place the Smiths crown on Young Scum’s head. Their vocals are smooth as silk with Marr-esque guitar swirls rounding out the divine songs that meld melancholy with shiny happiness.

(13) Death Cab for Cutie – “Gold Rush” {buy}

You don’t need me to tell you about Death Cab For Cutie – but I can’t help myself from reiterating what you probably already know: The song “Gold Rush” is a brilliant snapshot of present-day Seattle, so much so that it shakes me to the core every time I hear it. It is possibly my favorite DCFC song to date.

(14) Spiritualized – “Here It Comes (The Road) Let’s Go” {listen}

This song is a therapeutic hymn. With a minute of the first hummmmm of the synth, my heartbeat slows and I sway with a smile. It’s the best of a summer sunset and a soothing stroll in one.

(15) Conor Oberst – “No One Changes” {buy}

You’re probably not surprised to see an entry from Conor Oberst on any of my playlists. With “No One Changes,” Conor gave us a Ruminations-esque song; it’s toned down but digs deep into our heart and gut. Thank goodness.

(16) The Breeders – “Wait in the Car” {listen}

The start of this song can be jolting for some, but it’s my favorite part. I like to imagine that Kim Deal and I are a duo and something exciting is just about to begin. And then this song gets even better!

(17) Monnone Alone – “Cut Knuckle” {buy}

It makes perfect sense that one of our favorite Lucksmiths would release a catchy song that reminds us of the golden days and also serves as a cautionary tale.

(18) Who Is She? – “Seattle Freeze” {buy}

Who Is She? is one of Seattle’s best supergroups and they’ve blessed our fine town with a brilliant theme song for the sitcom that is our lives – “Seattle Freeze”. “It’s not Seattle, it’s you!” – I couldn’t have said it better myself.

This one came out in 2017, but I didn’t hear it until 2018 and it’s a really great song I wanted to share with you.

(19) Say Sue Me – “Old Town” {buy}

“Old Town” by Say Sue Me could be the most perfect indie-pop gem of 2018. The ooooohs and handclaps could convert even the most gloomy sad bastard.

(20) A Certain Smile – “Aberdeen” {buy}

“Aberdeen” is an infectious and airy indie-pop song. It glitters with a vintage shine that makes me want to hear more. I loved seeing them perform in 2018 (although this song officially came out in 2017).

(21) Sun Breaks – “Moments”  {buy}

“Moments” is a complex electro-rock song that smashes all barriers. It’s jagged and flows with a mosaic of arrows, taking me in all kinds of directions.

(22) Cold Soda – “Holly Leaf” {buy}

Cold Soda is a re-org of our very beloved The Cave Singers. On the “Holly Leaf,” they give us a haunting rock song that is an instant classic. Riffs and mystery draw me in, leaving me wanting more.

(23) Superchunk – “What a Time to Be Alive” {buy}

Big thanks to Superchunk for an anthem for our times. I like to listen to it on repeat as coping mechanism during these alt-reality times.

 

ICYMI: Here’s that Spotify playlist for you to listen on repeat!!!

 

My Favorite Reissues:

My favorite reissues of the year (i.e. when favorite all time albums become new again!).

(1) Adorable – Against Perfection

{buy this album} {Adorable on TIG}

One of the things I most enjoy talking about is the brilliance of the song “Homeboy” from Adorable’s debut album, Against Perfection. Now, thanks to this 2018 reissue, I get to dazzle everyone with a listen the song on limited edition, numbered, 180 gram sunburst colored vinyl version of it. The beautiful reissue was released to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this beloved album. Act quick, I think there are still some copies of the original run (of 1,500 records) available.

If you’re ready to join me in the kingdom of Adorable superfandom, I recommend reading the song by song guide to the album, written by Adorable’s lead singer, Pete Fijalkowski (who I imagine wearing the same all-white possibly leather outfit, as seen in most press photos, while scribbling that history).

And just to tip you over the edge, here’s another gem I found this year. Pete Fijalkowski posted an acoustic version of “Homeboy” on his Bandcamp page.

 

(2) Los Campesinos – Hold On Now, Youngster…

{buy this album} {band website} {TIG live show review}

Los Campesinos!’s pursuit of indie-greatness is exuberant and reckless. The Welsh sweethearts meld all our favorite parts of Sebadoh + Cub + Magnetic Fields, and all Heavenly points in between.

As you can guess, I loved this album the first time around when it was originally released back in 2008. It’s songs are catchy and coy and at other times slow, methodical and bookishly (errr zine-ishly) carnal. With this deluxe, double vinyl reissue, they added a lot of rarities / b-sides / things I can’t wait for you to hear. For example, their cover of Heavenly’s “C is the Heavenly Option.”

 

My Favorite Video Moments:

The TIG New Wave Night birthday party we had back in June resulted in most of my favorite videos of the year. Rather than sharing them all here, just go watch them over on our blog post:

Video Thrilled the Radio Star! Watch Performances from New Wave Night

Here’s a sampler of the kind of awesomeness you’ll find in that post: Aaron Starkey of Gibraltar & OCEANWIRES) covering “Bigmouth Strikes Again.”

 

HOPES AND DREAMS for 2019:

OK, I know at the beginning of this listmania I swore off talking about hopes and dreams for the future. But, now that I’m all giddy from listening to and talking about my favorite 2018 things, I’m ready to look forward to next year with some hopes and dreams. As far as hopes go, my main hopes are for more health and happiness for us all – and hopes of the ITMFA ilk.

The first 2019 record I’m excited about is pretty dreamy: The new Tullycraft album, The Railway Price Hotel, will be released on February 5, 2019.  The Seattle founders of the twee-pop movement have put together a new batch of songs that are catchy, smart, and exuberant (just as you’d hope and expect). The album is chock full of twists and references and jangly guitars. I’ve had a chance to hear it already and I’m in love with it (read more info by Innocent Words about it). I’m most excited for you to hear the “Delaware” song and I will probably talk more about that when the album is released.

As I type this, there are a couple limited edition colored vinyl versions available:

Here’s a sampling – the first single from The Railway Prince Hotel:


Full disclosure: Yes, I’ve kissed every member of Tullycraft (3/4 of those have been totally platonic kisses).

 

Top photo: Yes, I still listen to cds and I like to have a boombox at the ready.

Categories
Record Review Unlikely Friends

I’ve got smiles for miles and miles thanks to Unlikely Friends’ Crooked Numbers

You’d think that my favorite part of the Unlikely Friends story is that they formed in the most imaginary of ways: D. Crane (of my favorite band: BOAT) and Charles Bert (of my favorite band: Math & Physics Club) first played together at Three Imaginary Girls ice cream social (which was part of our series of 10th anniversary shows) back in 2012.

Actually, what I {currently} love most about the band is I’m pretty sure their latest album, Crooked Numbers, was made precisely for those of us who love fun lo-fi rock songs laden with visceral stressed-out adultness, fears of complacency, and tales of compromise and regret. Hey, that’s me!

Even with the grown-up gripes, the songs are boisterous with a lighthearted finish. There are stand out rockers like “15 Rounds” and “All the Cameras in Japan,” and others that bind those climatic moments with unexpected nostalgia {“39 Steps” and “Kool-Aid Smell”} and eccentricities {“The Best Trick in Modern Science” – yes, I even sing along the part about the frog}.

“Cut Loose” has a place near and dear to my heart because of the “circle round the moon” refrain – perhaps Unlikely Friends have been listening to Nana Grizol {which is a major plus in any playbook}? The album wraps up with “The Strangest Kind” – a wonderfully quirky love song.

There’s an ease to how the collection falls into place, thanks to the band’s natural aversion to overthinking things. They took lessons from Superchunk, Pavement, and Beulah – playful guitar swerves steering songs without an ounce of pretension.

I keep coming back to “Broken Again” perhaps because it’s the most quintessential Crooked Numbers song on the album:

I’ve been dragging around this old suitcase
Everywhere that I go I feel so out of place
I just want to be like everybody else
With the same old things in the same old house

I’m forty years old and my hair is going gray
There’s ringing in my ears that won’t go away
Too many bars, too many bands, and not much else
But I’ve got a new plan

For an album that focuses on imposter syndrome and feelings of being misunderstood, it makes those of us of a certain age feel understood. The songs are the homerun cheers that only we can hear.

Album Release Show + Commemorative Ice Cream Flavor

Celebrate the release of this highly {and imaginarily} recommended album on Saturday, February 24, 2018 at Full Tilt Ice Cream Parlor in Capitol Hill. The band is going to play a set of their songs and Full Tilt will have a new, limited edition flavor to mark the night of amazing songs. I usually go right towards their almond bliss or coffee oreo flavors, but I’ll need to add a scoop of the “Cookied Nom-Brrs” flavor – banana ice cream with crooked amounts of nilla wafers, marshmallow, and swirls of caramel (more info).

And rumor has it, tapes will be available!

Unlikely Friends on KEXP!

UF will play an in-studio at KEXP 90.3 FM on March 17th at 4pm!

Here’s how it went last time they were in the KEXP studios playing songs from the first Unlikely Friends album {Solid Gold Cowboys}.

Categories
Gorge Amphitheater New Pornographers Sleater-Kinney Unlikely Friends

Sasquatch 2015 Picks: Flume, Sleater-Kinney, The New Pornographers, Unlikely Friends {Friday, May 5/22}

{Sleater Kinney – Credit: Brigitte Sire}

The Sasquatch music festival is finally upon us, and as always it promises to be a fantastic weekend. Last year Sasquatch attempted to mix things up by adding a second weekend over the 4th of July (in addition to the traditional Memorial weekend event) and shortening each to 3 days before eventually scrapping that second weekend. This year the festival is back to it’s single weekend format, returning to the lengthy 4-day festival stretching from this Friday, May 22nd through Monday, May 25th.  With so many bands to see the schedule can get kind of daunting, so we’re here to help with our suggestions of bands and comedians to check out while you’re bouncing around between Sasquatch’s 5 different action packed stages.

Friday might be the best day for seeing some of the best bands the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Starting things off at 3:45 on the Uranus stage is local band Unlikely Friends. Longtime fans of Three Imaginary Girls are probably familiar with the members of this band, as it’s a collaboration between David Crane of BOAT and Charles Bert of Math and Physics Club. The sound in this new project doesn’t venture far from their other bands sound; with D Crane doing most of the vocals they tend to sound somewhat similar to BOAT. They’ve been getting good radio airplay on KEXP with their single “Soft Reputation”.

Over at 6:05 on the Main Stage are longtime Pacific Northwest favorites (do they call Vancouver the southwest in Canada?) The New Pornographers. The long running super group of sorts if coming off of the success of their 6th album, 2014’s Brill Bruisers. The album has received rave reviews, showing that even though they’ve been together since the late 90’s they certainly aren’t lacking in creative energy.

Headlining the opening night on the main stage are North West punk rock icons Sleater-Kinney. The trio just released their first album in a decade No Cities To Love, and it’s just as good and rocks just as hard as anything in their fantastic discography. The trio is coming off a recent three-night stand of packed shows as the Showbox at the Market, and there is sure be a ton of fans both old and new ready to rock out.

If you have any energy left after Sleater-Kinney’s set, I highly recommend heading over to the Bigfoot stage at midnight for a dance set from electronic Australian beatmaker Flume. Flume is the project of 23 year old Harley Streten, and his debut 2012 album is full of excellent electronic dance tracks, perfect for closing out your opening day at Sasquatch.