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Hey y'all, I host Storm Surge of Reverb from 4-6pm on Mondays. All my favorite surf stuff will find its way over to stormsurgeofreverb.com later, but in order to keep myself sane I still listen to plenty of other music. This seems like as good a place as any to post my favorite 2016 stuff. And my unfavorites that made me mad. In no particular order...

Favorites

The Myrrors - Entranced Earth

A big huge psychedelic orchestra soundtracking a pagan ritual. This is one where you can stick your headphones on somebody's head and immediately pique their interest. More like this please.

 

The Reverberations - Mess Up Your Mind

I love a good garage-pop record, and they're getting increasingly hard to come by as snotty noise-garage comes into vogue. Mess Up Your Mind is about as textbook 90's-as-60's garage as it comes. The lyrics are garage rock copy & paste to an almost comical degree (which is the degree that will get me to notice) but they're extremely well studied and done with love for the music. 

 

Lorelle Meets the Obsolete - Balance

The title of this record is ironic considering how heavily I lean towards a single track. The album as a whole is great shoegaze with all the mystery and atmosphere you want (though the vocals might get a little mumbley even for shoegaze). But when La Distinción comes on - ohhhh boy. Easily one of the most knockout tracks I've heard this year. 

 

Kava Kon - Maritime Mysteries

If you're deep enough into surf  you're probably going to brush up against exotica every now and then. I don't really understand - surf is about teenage adrenaline, and exotica is basically 1950's mid-life crisis music seeking a new world beyond their own to exercise their hi-fi. I'm being harsh, I do like exotica, but I think it's mostly a bad influence on surf. If not musically, I blame the tiki crowd for introducing hawaiian shirts to surf.

Kava Kon used to be pretty straight exotica, and so I'm surprised I even gave them a chance here. I got all the Martin Denny records I need. But they totally jumped off into a new direction here, keeping all the mystery and wonder of exotica but with a much more wide-open idea of what to do with their music. Sometimes I think Enigma, sometimes Boards of Canada, a dash of Eden Ahbez, and maybe a touch of John Carpenter. A real fresh one!

 

Deerhoof - The Magic

I really haven't felt much from Deerhoof since 2004's Milk Man. Wow, that's a long time! Then I was warming up to La Isla Bonita then BAM, possibly my favorite Deerhoof record (at least tied with Apple-O). Not as silly as back in the day, but bringin' the noise bigtime. The opener The Devil and his Anarchic Surrealist Retinue makes its statement immediately and Learning to Apologize Effectively is an unlikely head-nodding highlight this year. I like Deerhoof again.

 

Heron Oblivion - Heron Oblivion

Nice desolate psych with members of Comets on Fire... who I never really got around to listening to. The main riff in "Oriar" is pure honey to me, ferocious but quickly calmed by Meg Baird's vocals. Great mood throughout, wild and tamed back and forth.

 

Angel Olsen - My Woman

I decided when I was a kid that I want to like everything, because I like to like things. But I also have this deeply embedded anti-hype sensor that makes me push against things I don't know anything about. Seeing this at the top of our 30 albums of the week so many times tripped that sensor, and I was so cold to it that upon listening my thought was "ugh, I guess everybody's right on this one".

Her sound isn't completely barebones, but it's sparse enough that it's clear that plain ol' good songwriting wins the day here. "Shut up kiss me" is exactly the sort of simple emphatic singalong that college radio rightfully should eat up. I haven't had as much time to digest this one as others but, it's clearly a pretty great one. 

 

Lush - Blind Spot EP

It sucks that they've already disbanded again, so an EP is the only new material we'll get, but I like these four songs MORE than I like most of their previous material.

 

Khun Narin - II

Khun Narin's hypnotic bare-essentials psychedelic jamming were caught in a youtube video deep in Thailand. With everything on the internet these days hyped to a too-good-to-be-true level, Khun Narin now have two albums giving you exactly what you saw in that video.

 

Tortoise - The Catastrophist

Way sillier and more playful than any Tortoise record I knew, but the truth is I'm not really in any place to absorb something as moody as old Tortoise anymore. This record got panned by critics, but it kept me guessing throughout. 

 

Disappointments

There are some years where I feel like everybody's putting out their best stuff. And then there are some years where I felt like everybody I like fell flat on their face. Welp, here's 2016.

Cool Ghouls - Animal Races

2014's "Swirling Fire Burning Through The Rye" was a gem and finding it while doing a WTUL prog show was a reminder as to why I love doing progressive radio. I finally listened to their self-titled shortly before Animal Races came out and found more of what I loved: genuine excited energy that you could get swept up in. That was left at home for Animal Races

The Avalanches - Wildflower

My Bloody Valentine followed up Loveless, so the next big thing I had to wait for was another Avalanches. Similarly, those impossibly high expectations weren't met. Unlike MBV, I think Wildflower's a good record and understands well what made Since I Left You so great. I don't regret buying it, but it rarely grabbed me for a full listen-through, let alone repeated ones.

White Lung - Paradise

I'm genuinely perplexed as to how this is showing up on a number of big top 50 lists. It's been diminishing returns since their debut It's the Evil burst out with a frantic energy that made me care about punk again. With every record Mish Way sounds less affected, and the production loses so much edge that at this point it's a bored drawl over an unlistenable mess of overproduced noise barely showing off their previously stellar guitar work. I don't know how much deeper of a hole they can dig.

Goat - Requiem

Goat's unhinged devil worship psychedelia goes from burning village scale to campfire. I really tried, but I came for the noise and the grooves, and all this makes me want to do it hear the older stuff.

Nothing - Tired of Tomorrow

Guilty of Everything is one of my favorite shoegaze records since I don't know when. It's not so much for depth or lushness, but the shoegazey whisperiness over swelling guitars works on a straight-to-the-gut level. What little lushness there was seems pulled back, reducing them to at best a sound that reminds me of Hum. But really just a melancholy alt-rock band. '

Sonic Avenues - Disconnector

The cycle never ends. A good punk band embraces the synth, decides to slow down a bit. It always sucks.

The Gap Dream - This Is Gap Dream

Their debut LP was as obviously lightning-in-a-bottle as it gets: addictingly good despite being so homogenous. They dropped their guitars on their second album, it was disappointing, then this record has "College Music" which is one of the worst songs I've heard all year.

Pixies - Head Carrier

Nobody expected this to be good, and it wasn't. But while we're talking about worst songs of the year, "All I Think About Now" is such a blatant and poorly executed rip-off of "Where is My Mind" that I'm embarrassed for them.

 

 

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