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Best of the Rest: Other Highlights of 2016

Even with our expanded Best-Of list courtesy of The Process, there were still a ton of great albums released last year that were worthy of recognition.  Since we here at Rust Is Just Right are big believers in spreading all good music, we’re going to put a spotlight on some other great records that you may have overlooked from the past year.

YG – Still Brazy

This would be a memorable album even if it didn’t include the future national anthem of the United States, “FDT.”

Wilco – Schmilco

A delicate album that seems tossed-off now, but future Wilco fans will enjoy as a secret gem.

Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth

The token country album, but its status as one that even indie kids would enjoy is earned, even beyond the touching cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom.”

PJ Harvey – The Hope Six Demolition Project

Forgotten too soon (or worse, seen as a disappointment), this was a strong album from one of rock’s most consistent artists.

Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow

It didn’t measure up to their debut, but there’s still gold in their shoegaze-meets-hard rock sound.

The Last Shadow Puppets – Everything You’ve Come To Expect

Not quite as strong as their debut, but it was a treat to see Alex Turner’s side-project return once again

Gojira – Magma

I saw these guys open up for Mastodon, and instantly became a fan.

DIIV – Is The Is Are

They pretty much play only one song, but it’s a good one.

Death Grips – Bottomless Pit

Just when it seemed like the creative well was running dry, Death Grips find new nuance in their abrasive sound.

David Bowie – Blackstar

Goddamn, who knew he had this in his backpocket the entire time?  Bowie was still capable of musical surprises, like this futuro-jazz album, up until the end.

Dame D.O.L.L.A. – The Letter O

Damian Lillard is easily the best rapper in NBA history (and in all of professional sports), but really his talent is better than everything that sentence implies.

Clipping. – Splendor and Misery

Daveed Diggs got mass recognition for his role in “Hamilton,” but a lot of fans would prefer he stick to his day job.  A great sci-fi hip-hop concept album.

Bleached – Welcome the Worms

One of the strongest garage rock albums during the current wave of the genre.

Also Worthy of Praise

Yuck – Stranger Things, Band of Horses – Why Are You OK, Wire – Nocturnal Koreans, Banks & Steelz – Anything But Words, Joy Formidable – Hitch

All Albums That Were Considered

In the interests of full disclosure, here are all the other albums that we listened to last year, in full.  Most of these were quite good and worthy of repeated listens, but they just could not crack the previous lists.

The Men – Devil Music, Kanye West – The Life of Pablo, Beyonce – Lemonade, Frank Ocean – Blonde, Red Fang – Only Ghosts, Teenage Fanclub – Here, Anderson .Paak – Malibu, Beach Slang – A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings, Tim Hecker – Love Streams, Adrian Younge – Something About April II, A Giant Dog – Pile, Walter Martin – Arts & Leisure, Andrew Bird – Are You Serious, Bloc Party – Hymns, Holy Fuck – Congrats, Pixies – Head Carrier, Yung – A Youthful Dream, Dandy Warhols – Distortland, Pinegrove – Cardinal, of Montreal – Innocence Reaches, Savages – Adore Life, Hot Hot Heat – Hot Hot Heat, DJ Shadow – The Mountain Will Fall, Deerhoof – The Magic, Woods – City Sun Eater in the River of Light, Tindersticks – The Waiting Room, White Lung – Paradise, Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”

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Best of the Rest: Other Highlights from 2014

Even with our expanded Best-Of list courtesy of The Process, there were still a ton of great albums released last year that were worthy of recognition.  Since we here at Rust Is Just Right are big believers in spreading all good music, we’re going to put a spotlight on some other great records that you may have overlooked from the past year.

Atmosphere – Southsiders.  At this point in their career, you know what you’re going to get with Atmosphere, and for occasional fans that’s perfect.  Slug still comes up with great one-liners, and Ant provides an intriguing, grimy production to back him up.

Biblical – Monsoon Season.  This selection is proof that good things can happen when you show up to see the opening act.  We first caught them when they were touring with Death From Above 1979, and we instantly fell for their version of heavy metal that takes the sensibility of Queens of the Stone Age and Mastodon and expands it out to include several rocking solos.  A prog version of Red Fang?  We’re there.

clipping. – CLPPNG.  These guys do a great job of pushing the boundaries of modern rap, though their experimentalism can get the best of them on occasion.  There are several instances on CLPPNG that the abrasiveness becomes oppressive, but then there are plenty of other times where everything coalesces and it just hits.  Throughout the record, MC Daveed Diggs showcased some of the best technique of the past year, displaying an impressive ear for rhythm and deploying some incisive rhymes, with “Story 2” serving as the most prominent example.

Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!.  This mixture of electronica, jazz, hip-hop, and R&B flows effortlessly from one track to the next and always keeps your attention.  Kendrick Lamar’s appearance on “Never Catch Me” is the highlight, but there is a lot of fun to be had throughout the album.

King Tuff – Black Moon Spell.  A unique mix of glam rock and lo-fi indie, the best moments of this album are some of the most fun rock’n’roll released last year.

Mastodon – Once More ‘Round the Sun.  Mastodon continues to evolve and refine their sound, reining in some of their tendencies towards excess with more concise songs but still adventurous enough to seek out some crazy riffs and solos.  In this way, Once More serves as an efficient composite of their previous albums, but also features some of their catchiest riffs yet.

The Roots – …And then you shoot your cousin.  The Roots are so consistently excellent that they are practically the Spoon of hip-hop.  Their latest concept album was overlooked and underrated, and though it suffers from a diminished presence from Black Thought, the record still works even if it leans on more traditional R&B than rap.

Slow Bird – Chrysalis.  They show a good ear for slow builds and pretty melodies, and  one can hear the foundation for future success.

Tweedy – Sukierae.  Who would have thought that Jeff Tweedy and his son Spencer would make a good team?  This side project has enough of the charm of his main gig in Wilco, while also offering enough of an alternative that makes it a worthwhile effort.

Walter Martin – We’re All Young Together.  This is the third solo album from a former member of The Walkmen released last year, but since the intended audience was for children there were much lower stakes involved.  However, this is one of those “kids albums” that is just as pleasant for adults, with its effortless easy-going charm.  If you play this for the kids, chances are they will grow up with good taste in music.

Also Worthy of Praise

Broken Bells – After the Disco; Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Only Run; D’Angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah; Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita; Eels – The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett; Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways; Parquet Courts – Content Nausea; Sun Kil Moon – Benji; Temples – Sun Structures; tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack.

All Albums That Were Considered

Here is a list of the albums that we listened to last year, in full.  Most of these were quite good and worthy of repeated listens, but they just could not crack the previous lists.  The good news is there were no absolute stinkers this year, though some were weaker efforts from bands that had excelled in the past.

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – IX; Band of Horses – Acoustic at the Ryman; The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Revelation; Circulatory System – Mosaics Within Mosaics; Cold War Kids – Hold My Home; Coldplay – Ghost Stories; Crosses – Crosses; Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots; Dum Dum Girls – Too True; Ghostface Killah – 36 Seasons; J Mascis – Tied To A Star; Jack White – Lazaretto; Karen O – Crush Songs; Kasabian – 48:13; Kevin Drew – Darlings; The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers; Philip Selway – Weatherhouse; Pixies – Indie Cindy; Thee Silver Mt. Zion – Fuck Off We Get Free We Pour Light On Everything; Thurston Moore – The Best Day; Tokyo Police Club – Forcefield; We Are Scientists – TV en Francais; Wye Oak – Shriek.

An Appreciation of the 360° Music Video

I have long been a fan of music videos, and I believe that one of the unfortunate consequences of the decline of MTV and other cable music networks is that we are unable to see the progress of a legitimate art form.  With this in mind, know that Rust Is Just Right will often try to highlight our favorite videos and techniques.  Today we will look at a specific form which saw a mini-renaissance of sorts, the 360° music video.

This specific technique is a variation of an old stand-by, the one-shot video.  It takes a remarkable amount of skill and planning to pull off a memorable one-shot video, because it has to balance between being simple enough to accomplish with one take while also portraying some event that will make the video memorable to some degree.  The 360° video is a particularly ingenious variation of the one-shot video, because its very nature creates the illusion of movement and allows the director to mess with the predictions of the viewer.  There is a sense of progress, even if the action does not necessarily move forward, and because the viewer is constantly anticipating what is happening off-screen, the director has time to prepare and come up with a surprise as to what happens next.

Last year saw two different takes on the 360° concept from wildly different artists.  The first was the video for “Inside Out” from clipping., which followed a CGI representation of the MC navigating around a street corner, with each line represented by a specific image that takes the place of his head.  It is quite entertaining, and also helps the viewer connect with the specific lyrics of the song.

The other video from last year which utilized this concept was Philip Selway’s “Around Again”.  The song title provides an obvious clue as to why the director went with this conceit, but rest assured the result rises above being a mere gimmick.  Here, the director plays with repetition of certain movements and actions as well as incorporating slow-motion, colors, and freeze-frames, which provide a stark contrast to the illusory movement around the track.

Now contrast these recent videos with two alternative rock videos from back in the day when rock videos actually got played on TV.  First, there’s Everclear’s bouncy and irreverent “Everything to Everyone”.

Now compare that to Saves the Day’s “At Your Funeral”.

The most interesting comparison between the two pairs is how the recent videos focus on a protagonist traveling around in a set track, while the camera in the Everclear video rotates without any clear target and instead allowing specific scenes to take the spotlight with each rotation.  The “At Your Funeral” video splits the difference by focusing both on a static shot of singer Chris Conley, keeping him squarely in the center of the frame as the camera rotates, as well as covering the major moments of a family’s life (in super-fast motion) with the camera’s unyielding revolutions.

Though all four videos use a similar approach, each is able to stand out in distinct ways with each yielding a memorable result.  The mere usage of this clever technique is not enough to guarantee a notable result, but it can help, and the director in each video utilized the concept to their advantage.  If anyone else can think of any other examples of this type of music video, we’d love to hear it, and if possible compare them to these instances above.

Over the Weekend (Dec. 22 Edition)

Some videos and lists and other fun stuff as you continue to put off Christmas shopping…

Last week we said farewell to one of our favorite late night comedy shows with the end of The Colbert Report, but that wasn’t the only great program that finished its run last week.  The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson was underrated for the entirety of its run, as few could match the creativity and anarchic spirit of its host.  Craig ended things with a bang on his last show, and it was nice to see this tribute at the top of his show.  Here’s the official video, though it’s missing an excellent second half as seen in this link.

The “Bang Your Drum” performance was an excellent followup to the latest rendition of the annual holiday tradition of Darlene Love performing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home”) on The Late Show with David Letterman.  Of course, what really takes the performance to another level is the bari sax solo, but all the musicians are worthy of praise.

Once again, we have even more lists for your consultation.  Cokemachineglow has multiple lists for top albums, and then there are best videos lists from Vulture, PASTE, and Buzzfeed.  While there are several good selections, I’m surprised to see the absence of our personal pick for best music video of 2014, the haunting “Story 2” from clipping.

Song Exploder has an excellent interview with members of The National, who discuss the creation of “Sea of Love” for Trouble Will Find Me.  They really go deep into the making of the song, so all those budding songwriters out there should take note.

In a bit of unsurprising news, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are “on a bit of a hiatus” according to Karen O.  But it sounds like it’s just down time and not anything signalling the end of the band, which is great.

The Replacements have released some new music, and to say it’s different than what you would expect would be an understatement.  Pitchfork has the link to the 25 minute jazz improve piece “Poke Me In My Cage”.

Daniel Kessler from Interpol’s side project Big Noble just released their first music video, providing a visual accompaniment to the soundscape “Stay Gold”.

And a melancholy farewell to Joe Cocker, who possessed one of the great voices in rock history.  His cover of “With A Little Help From My Friends” was a huge part of my childhood, and I’m sure millions of others could say the same thing.

Over the Weekend (Nov. 17 Edition)

New videos and other fun stuff to get your mind off the biting cold that has descended upon us…

Deerhoof recently came out with a new album (La Isla Bonita) that we’ve unfortunately neglected to cover.  That’s likely to change, since they’re coming to Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge on Thursday, but hopefully we can make up for it by sharing their latest music video.  “Exit Only” features actor Michael Shannon interrogating himself and engaging in all sorts of crazy behavior–in other words, what it’s probably like hanging around Michael Shannon on a regular basis.

Kendrick Lamar gave a thrilling performance on the Saturday Night Live stage this past weekend and I highly recommend watching it.  If you were disappointed by the initial single “i” (those ranks do not include myself, but I know the buzz was lacking when it first was leaked), then you definitely need to see it done live.

It’s been our duty to keep informing you about Radiohead drummer Philip Selway’s solo career, and as such, we’re sharing the fantastic, mind-bending video he did for “Around Again” from Weatherhouse.

It reminds me of another fantastic recent music video that we didn’t share when it first came out, but we’ll rectify that immediately.  “Inside Out” from clipping. also uses the concept of following a protagonist’s circular journey around the camera, except this time the character’s face is used to illustrate particular lyrics.  Pretty cool.

Death From Above 1979 would have to be among the last bands that you would imagine sitting down for an acoustic set, but they recently stopped by for such a performance thanks to 102.9 the Buzz in Nashville.  Not only did they perform “Crystal Ball”, “White Is Red”, and “Trainwreck 1979” off their fantastic new album, The Physical World, but they also sat down for an amusing interview, covering such things as proposed alternate band names and how much they listen to Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age.

And finally, leave it to The Onion to cut to the chase when it comes to the standard indie rock career cycle.

Over the Weekend (Aug. 25 Edition)

Some fun stuff to flip through as you struggle to stay awake for another week of the Simpsons marathon…

In case you didn’t know, MTV aired their Video Music Awards last night, and I think the best way to sum up my feelings about the event is to quote AV Club writer Sean O’Neal: “Today is the 15th anniversary of me realizing I no longer care about the VMAs.”  Nevertheless, Sean himself printed a “recap” of the show, but this was based purely on skimming articles about the show.  If you’re still in the mood to talk about the VMAs, SPIN provides their own category of Worst Music Video and hands out their own award.

In a more substantial piece, SPIN also has an interview with Run The Jewels, and they talk about current events and race in America.  With that, you should also check out the new track released by clipping. in the wake of the events of Ferguson.

We’ve mentioned that Aphex Twin is finally releasing a new album with SYRO, and now Pitchfork has given us a quick preview of a longer interview to be published at a later date; among the most important items mentioned is the pronunciation of the album title.

And finally, Pitchfork decided to use one of the dead weeks in August to go full List-mania, with lists covering the best albums, music videos, and tracks of the last five years.  The fact that Celebration Rock is not the number one album pretty much calls the entire enterprise into question (and the fact that two of the three paragraphs written about the album are pure garbage is also another great hint), but if you’ve got time to kill, then I guess you could read it.

I will say that they are correct about how great Tame Imapala’s “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” is.

Catching Up On The Week (Aug. 15 Edition)

Some #longreads for your weekend as we try not mention Spoon for the first time this week.  Oh…goddammit.

Well, we might as well keep the streak up and talk about Spoon again.  But we have a really good reason this time, as Britt Daniel talks to Pitchfork about a number of songs from the entirety of their career, and provides some great insight into the songwriting process and explains a lot of the specific references in their songs.

And while you’re hanging around Pitchfork, be sure to take a look at the story behind the legendary underground hip-hop album Madvillainy, and this piece that looks at why older artists are now hitting the top spot on the albums chart.

Slate has an article that discusses the neuroscience behind people’s natural inclination to adore the songs of their youth, despite the fact that objectively they realize the songs are not very good.  This inspired me to take a look through my collection to see if there was anything that I should be ashamed of, and I really didn’t come up with anything.  But I’m going to post this video of N.E.R.D.’s “Rock Star”, because how often will I have the chance?  I wonder what Pharrell ever did after this…

Continuing with the theme of articles of a more analytic nature, FiveThirtyEight has a look at the regional differences in playlist construction of Classic Rock Stations.

Rolling Stone has a couple of pieces that should provoke some interest.  First, there’s an investigation behind a lost classic by the Beastie Boys from the Paul’s Boutique days.  Then there’s a look behind the recording of Mother’s Milk for its 25th anniversary, an album that remains my favorite from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Impose Magazine has an interview with clipping., as they argue against being pigeonholed as “noise-rap”.

And finally, there’s a profile of The New Pornographers in the Wall Street Journal of all places.  Wrap your head around that concept for a second, then go ahead and read the piece.

Over the Weekend (July 28 Edition)

New videos perfect for a lazy summer day and more…

Karen O released a video for “Rapt” from her upcoming solo release, Crush Songs.  The song is a delicate lo-fi bitter ode to love, while the video sees Karen O floating underwater.  That should be enough to intrigue you.

This weekend saw an unexpected collaboration, as Jack White popped up at a Beck concert, and White joined in for classics like “Loser”, “Pay No Mind”, and “Where It’s At”.  The video at Pitchfork gives an incomplete view of what happened, but the glimpses that we see make it seem like a fantastic partnership.  Their respective tours mirror each other a bit, so perhaps this we’ll be only the first example of a possible union.

And we’re sure most of you saw how the internet had fun with Jack White enjoying himself at a Cubs game last week, and SPIN did their part by comparing how much fun Eddie Vedder had with the Cubs last week as well.

Check out this solo acoustic performance from Adam Granduciel of The War On Drugs, performing “An Ocean In Between The Waves.”  The performance shows that even without all the gauzy synths and hazy atmospherics of the album recording, it’s a damn good song that’s still extremely powerful.

The group clipping. has gotten a lot of attention for its experimental take on rap and for being one of the few hip-hop acts on Sub Pop, and they had the music world buzzing last week with their latest video, for “Story 2”.  The song is a harrowing tale of a father’s returning home to find a tragedy has occurred at his house, with the style and flow changing as the terror increases once the father realizes what happened.  The video follows the same storyline, though it’s shot to show only the father’s lower body, which makes it all the more unsettling.  It’s probably one of the best videos you’ll see this year.

And last week saw the 25th anniversary of the seminal album Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys, and Uproxx celebrated with the video of their performance on “Soul Train”.  Not only that, but Rolling Stone reported that a mural dedicated to the guys will be shown at the location memorialized by the album cover.  The RS article now includes a link showing the mural.