Tom Whalen Poop 2014


>> Top 10 albums

Buy Sun Kil Moon – Benji New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon           Rent via iTunes [?]
1) Sun Kil Moon – Benji (Caldo Verde) >> Ultimately, I’m kind of glad that Kozelek threw himself from grace with the War on Drugs stuff. The shine on this album was a little too bright. I’m not talking about discovery greed here; it’s not that I wanted this thing to myself, or could ever imagine having it that way (who would even admit to that!?). It’s just that Benji isn’t “for everybody”, the way universally lauded albums are often made out to be—and not in like an elitist, “you wouldn’t get it” sort of way. It’s more like, the album is so nakedly sincere, its subject matter so unadorned and at times utterly banal, that it must strike some listeners as downright bizarre, as much an inexplicable oddity at Koz’s online antics.


I think Gabriel Samach from Tiny Mix Tapes put it very well— “What does it say that, in 2014, one of the most provocative, boundary-pushing, and perhaps life-changing albums of the year might very well be an acoustic folk album that says exactly what it means?” Spot on, with the “life-changing” part appropriately qualified—it’s true for only some of us, and who can even say for certain what that really means, anyway. For those of us who are on board, the WOD thing didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know and feel: this is a dude with a weird, cruel sense of humor getting old before our ears, and in turn his record will reminds us that we too are getting old, that the world is weird and cruel… but also funny and profound and beautiful. Benji is not self-reverent flower-folk beautiful, though neither is it, as is often reported, totally grim or miserable. It’s a very specific, nameless and uncanny thing, something only this album has, which is just about the highest compliment I can imagine for a piece of art in any genre.


If I could give Benji a number other than “1”, some mega digit to show how far in the dust it left even my other very favorite albums of the year, I would.



Buy Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon           Rent via iTunes [?]
2) Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues (Total Treble) >> I’m a pretty apolitical “all about the tunes”-type listener, but even so, it’s difficult, even more so than with Benji, to discuss the new AM! record in a vacuum, so I’m not even going to pretend to try. I don’t know if TDB is the first of its kind (a trans-themed concept album written and performed by a trans person), but it’s certainly the first of its kind with any sort of cultural profile. This is no insignificant feat, which would have been the case if the album were just OK. Of course, it’s not— TDB is an impassioned ripper in the great AM! tradition. The fact that this record stirs the guts like nothing since Reinventing Axl is proof enough—we are who we are, and we can all rock.



Buy Yob – Clearing a Path to Ascend  New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon           Rent via iTunes [?]
3) Yob – Clearing a Path to Ascend (Neurot) >> Four long tracks, each a wide cavern metropolis of wonder, sometimes vicious and sometimes downright gorgeous, the kind of album that grabs you by the throat in some new and unexpected way every time you put it on.



Buy Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon           Rent via iTunes [?]
4) Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden (Profound Lore) >> More like 3A with Yob. “Doom” seems like the wrong word for this kind of metal—this stuff is rapture.



Buy Aphex Twin – Syro New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon           Rent via iTunes [?]
5) Aphex Twin – Syro (Warp) >> As with Boards of Canada the year before, Richard D returns with his warmly familiar voice intact yet still searches ever forward. It’s cool to realize that James is as much an avid, absorbing listener as he is a hermetic creator.



Buy Spoon – They Want My Soul New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon           Rent via iTunes [?]
6) Spoon – They Want My Soul (Loma Vista) >> The San Antonio Spurs of indie rock. Dependable greatness is only boring if you’re a miserable cynic.



Buy Ex Hex – Rips New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon           Rent via iTunes [?]
7) Ex Hex – Rips (Merge) >> Comprehensively titled. Tremendous fun.



Buy A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Sea When Absent New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon           Rent via iTunes [?]
8) A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Sea Went Absent (Lefse) >> Glacial, not in terms of speed but in terms of awe-inspiring density—like listening to four Cocteau Twins records at the same time.



Buy  The Hold Steady - Teeth Dreams  New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon           Rent via iTunes [?]
9) The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams (Razor & Tie) >> It’s easy to forgive the dreadfully unsubtle modern rock production (as if Finn needed any help sounding emotionally convincing–the sound of a cigarette burning in “Big Cig”? Real cool; thanks for that) when the songs are this good, the person and place sketches this harrowing. “Spinners” is one for the Steady pantheon.



Buy Lord Mantis – Death Mask New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon           Rent via iTunes [?]
10) Lord Mantis – Death Mask (Profound Lore) >> Utterly misanthropic and unshakably compelling in equal measure, tickling the very darkest parts. Death Mask is sincerely menacing on all levels, and not in a histrionic corpse paint and goat sacrifice sort of way. On this one you yourself get f—ed by the goat—that’s one of the lyrics; not even kidding. Not to sound too pencily, but Lord Mantis is metal as a sonic and also moral avant-garde, taking you places you’d never want to go.


>> Ten more


Agalloch – The Serpent and the Sphere (Profound Lore)
At The Gates – At War With Reality (Century Media)
Caribou – Our Love (Merge)
Fennesz – Becs (Editions Mego)
FKA twigs – LP1 (Young Turks)
Forn – Departure of Consciousness (Vendetta)
Fucked Up – Glass Boys (Matador)
Horrendous – Ecdysis (Dark Descent)
How To Dress Well – What Is This Heart? (Domino/Weird World)
Primordial – Where Greater Men Have Fallen (Metal Blade)

>> Top 10 flicks


1) The Raid 2: Berandal, dir. Gareth Evans
2) Snowpiercer, dir. Bong Joon-Ho
3) The Guest, dir. Adam Wingard
4) The Grand Budapest Hotel, dir. Wes Anderson
5) Housebound, dir. Gerard Johnstone
6) The Babadook, dir. Jennifer Kent
7) Nightcrawler, dir. Dan Gilroy
8) Birdman, dir. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
9) Guardians of the Galaxy, dir. James Gunn
10) Edge of Tomorrow, dir. Doug Liman



Sweet year. Let’s have another.



TW, 1/24/15


Be the first to comment on "Tom Whalen Poop 2014"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*