DIIV

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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Over the Weekend (Sept. 21 Edition)

New music, videos, and news to kick off your week…

Eagles of Death Metal are set to release their first album in seven years, and the duo sat down for an interview with Rolling Stone that was in equal parts hilarious and eloquent, which should not be a surprise to anyone with a passing familiarity with their particular exploits.

Another fun interview worth checking out is the one SPIN conducted with Wayne Coyne about the twentieth anniversary of Clouds Taste Metallic, which touched on such topics as to how The Flaming Lips ended up on the Batman Forever soundtrack and the circumstances of the departure of guitarist Ronald Jones from the group.

Ought just came out with their second album last week, and Sun Coming Down has been greeted with rave reviews so far.  For those looking for a taste as to how the new album sounds, the band shared the video to the almost-title track “Sun’s Coming Down” last week.

With the breakthrough success of their album Sunbather still fresh in the minds of critics and fans, Deafheaven’s New Bermuda is set to be one of the most highly anticipated releases of the fall.  They should be highly pleased with the release of the song “Come Back”, as it incorporates many of the elements that people loved about Sunbather with some additional metal touches thrown in for good measure.

New Bermuda is not the only big album being released next Friday, as V from Wavves is also coming out on October 2nd.  The band shared the wrestling-themed video for the single “Way Too Much” last week, and it should get you pumped.

DIIV released the single “Dopamine” last week from their upcoming album Is The Is Are, and you can take a listen to the driving and infectious jangle-pop track through the band’s SoundCloud page.

Diffuser provides a look at the history of the photograph that Rage Against the Machine used for the self-titled debut, providing a bit of context to the unforgettable image of  Quảng Đức’s self-immolation.  Elsewhere on the site, you can find a pretty good list of the 25 Most Underrated Albums of the Past 25 Years, which we can say because we agree with many of the choices.

And finally, in not-unexpected news, the band Viet Cong has announced that they have decided to change their name.  The group still has a few shows left on its tour, including a date in Portland, but have not settled on a new name yet.

Catching Up On The Week (Sept. 4 Edition)

Some #longreads for your perusal this long holiday weekend…

If there is one person who knows the proper way to relax as summer winds down, it is Willie Nelson.  The Red Headed Stranger recently opened up to GQ in an entertaining interview, focusing mainly on his decades-long relationship with the sticky-icky, and revealing who exactly was with him when he was smoking up on the White House roof.

Last week we shared one retrospective on Kanye West’s Late Registration, but we recommend you read the AV Club write-up of the album as well.  Their piece for this week’s Permanent Records feature on Hot Fuss from The Killers is not as essential, though it did lead me to an entertaining theory as to a possible hidden storyline behind the album.

(For the record, “Jenny Was A Friend of Mine” and “Smile Like You Mean It” are the superior singles from that record, and the closer “Everything Will Be Alright” should not be relegated to the also-ran status that has been given to the entirety of the album’s Side B.)

DIIV is set to finally release their follow-up to 2012’s Oshin, and The Fader talks to frontman Zachary Cole Smith about the events of the past few years as the band recorded Is the Is Are.

Finally, be sure to read this fascinating conversation between Huck Magazine and the legendary Ian MacKaye (Fugazi, Minor Thread), as they engage in a thought-provoking philosophical discussion.  It is more interesting than it sounds, I assure you.

Review: Alvvays – Alvvays

Summer may be winding down, but luckily it’s not over quite yet; there are still a couple more weekends for you to enjoy some sunshine and relaxation before the horrors of autumn begin.  However, you might be getting a little annoyed with listening to the same Summer Mix playlist on your iTunes–a perfectly understandable concern.  To that end, it is worth checking out the self-titled debut of the sunny beach-pop band Alvvays.

(Ed. note: from what I’ve read about the band, despite the odd spelling, the name is still pronounced “Always”)

There have been several bands that have mined this vein of indie rock in recent years, most notably DIIV and Real Estate; the trademarked trebly guitars laced with reverb, the simplistic percussion, and the general laid-back vibe are all present on the album.  Even though there are many strong similarities between these groups, the upbeat disposition of many of the songs as well as the unique vocals of Molly Rankin help distinguish the group from its peers.  Whereas Real Estate would be perfect for spending the day relaxing by the ocean, Alvvays fits better as the soundtrack to help get you amped on the car ride to the beach.

The album begins with a 1-2 punch of “Adult Diversion” and “Archie, Marry Me”, and it’s easy to see why these two songs were the first singles.  “Adult Diversion” is propelled by a bouncy arpeggiated guitar part and airy vocals, a combination where one can note the apt comparisons to DIIV, but the true engine is the driving bassline, which provides both momentum and a great counterpoint.  “Archie, Marry Me” is a a great pop song with a big chorus, with a style that recalls the Dum Dum Girls and their attempts to capture that 60’s nostalgia haze.  While it’s easy to get caught up in the big sweeping hooks, the best part of the song is actually the feedback-drenched lead guitar in the second verse that provides a necessary subtle edge to the gauzy production.

The album is not without its problems, as the momentum begins to sag around the middle with “The Agency Group” and “Dives”.  The latter is actually a well-done ballad with enough unique touches that are promising for the future, but within the context of the album it just ends up being a drag.  Alvvays is able to avoid falling off the rails with the energetic “Atop A Cake” and its extremely catchy chorus, which should have you singing “How can I lose control when you’re driving from the backseat” long after you’ve finished listening to the album.  Other highlights include “Ones Who Love You”, a great slow number that gradually builds into a shocking climax of “You can’t feel your fucking face” before breaking back down once again, and the midtempo song “Party Police”, which is built around an intriguing minor-key guitar lick and finds Rankin hitting an unexpected high note like Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries or Sinéad O’Connor.

When Alvvays is hitting on all cylinders, it’s a fun ride; unfortunately, there are a few too many moments when it stalls.  That said, it’s a solid debut that can easily find a place in any future Summer Mix, and the band displays enough talent that it’s worth watching what they do in the future.