Lou Barlow

Best of the Rest: Other Highlights from 2015

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.

Action Bronson – Mr. Wonderful

His big-league debut was hit-and-miss, but when Action was on his game, it made for some of the most fun hip-hop of the year.

Baroness – Purple

These guys should be viewed as more than our token metal pick, since this was a truly enjoyable album with absolutely monster hooks.

Beach House – Depression Cherry.

The band has begun to reach the point of diminishing returns with their trademark sound, but there are still undeniably beautiful moments to be found, like in the gorgeously stunning “PPP.”

Built to Spill – Untethered Moon

One of our all-time favorites returned with a workmanlike effort.  No extra-long solos, just good solid rock.  And it seems to have rejuvenated the band in their live show.

Lou Barlow – Brace the Wave

The Dinosaur Jr. bassist is famous for being a member of possibly the Loudest Band in Rock, but his solo work explores the opposite end of the spectrum.  A haunting, delicate work.

Pusha T – King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude.

If this is the prelude, I can’t wait for the main course.

The Sonics – This Is The Sonics

One of the original garage rock bands reunited to create one of the most improbably awesome comeback albums fifty years after their initial heyday.  Pure rock’n’roll, no bullshit.

Tame Impala – Currents

If only the rest of the album was as awesome as its amazing opening track.  Unfortunately, the efforts to incorporate soul influences led to some rather unmemorable results.


Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool

They were able to switch between a wide variety of styles on their debut album, but it was their post-grunge single “Moaning Lisa Smile” that got our attention.

Also Worthy of Praise

Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars; Ceremony – The L-Shaped Man; Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit; Death Grips – The Powers That B; The Decemberists – What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World; Deradoorian – The Expanding Flower Planet; Eagles of Death Metal – Zipper Down; Moon Duo – Shadow of the Sun; Pfarmers – Gunnera; Ratatat – Magnifique; Wavves – V; Wire – Wire.

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 Arcs – Yours, Dreamily,; Coldplay – A Heart Full of Dreams; The Dead Weather – Dodge and Burn; Death Cab for Cutie – Kintsugi; Death Grips – Fashion Week; Deerhunter – Fading Frontier; Destroyer – Poison Season; Destruction Unit – Negative Feedback Resistor; Dr. Dre – Compton; Ducktails – St. Catherine; Editors – In Dream; Elvis Perkins – I Aubade; FFS – FFS; Frog Eyes – Pickpocket’s Locket; Fuzz – II; The Go! Team – The Scene Between; Helvetia – Dromomania; Hot Chip – Why Make Sense?; J Fernandez – Many Levels of Laughter; Kurt Vile – B’lieve I’m Going Down; Martin Courtney – Many Moons; My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall; Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper; Refused – Freedom; Reptar – Lurid Dream; Silversun Pickups – Better Nature; Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – The High Country; Surfer Blood – 1000 Palms; Swervedriver – I Wasn’t Born To Lose You; Tyler, the Creator – Cherry Bomb; Wavves x Cloud Nothings – No Life For Me; !!! – As If.

Reviews: Quick Hits (Part 2)

Though we here at Rust Is Just Right try as hard as we can, it simply is not possible for us to review all the great new albums that come across our way.  However, since our goal is to highlight great music that you may have not discovered yet, we feel obligated to at least give a brief mention to some of the records that we have accumulated over the past few months that are worthy of your consideration.  With that in mind, we present another slate of albums.

Frog Eyes – Pickpocket’s Locket With their previous albums Tears of the Valedictorian and Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph, Frog Eyes showed a certain flair for the dramatic, delivering cracked indie rock epics that can overwhelm listeners with their passion and intensity while challenging their preconceived musical sensibilities.  For this album, Casey Mercer has pulled back a bit and offered a more stripped-down version of his group’s bombastic sound, but delivered with a similar fervor.  You still get Mercer’s unique voice, but this time it is often accompanied by strings.

HEALTH – Death Magic For their long-awaited follow-up to Get Color, noise-rockers HEALTH have decided to throw on the most depressing dance party ever.  Industrial affectations adorn slow, slinky beats, creating a menacing if alluring album.  The only downside is a tendency early in the album to borrow a melody from Vampire Weekend’s “Giving Up The Gun”, but that might be a problem that does not afflict everyone equally.

Lou Barlow – Brace the Wave It is really strange that two of the members of probably the loudest fucking band on the planet, Dinosaur Jr., enjoy making gorgeous acoustic music in their spare time, but such is the case for J Mascis and Lou Barlow.  To be fair, Barlow has shown this side for years, even on a handful of Dino songs, but Brace the Wave is an especially gorgeous collection of songs.  Recorded after the dissolution of a long marriage, there is the expected melancholic element, but it is balanced with several moments of fragile beauty.

Wire – Wire The old punks are still kicking, and they are as restless as ever.  Not content to rehash their early work that has inspired countless modern bands, Wire instead dives into a dour post-punk take on shoegaze.  That is probably a poor characterization of their sound, but goes to show how the band has always managed to defy description.

Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool The band got some airplay with the aggro-indie track “Moaning Lisa Smile”, but the album as a whole exhibits far greater diversity than one might expect.  Wolf Alice shows a bit of love to multiple 90’s subgenres and trends, but avoids sounding like a rehash of that decade.  My Love Is Cool does not quite work as a cohesive album, but there should be plenty of stray tracks that fans will love.

Over the Weekend (Aug. 31 Edition)

News, new music, and new videos to help you start the week…

When the Eagles of Death Metal first debuted in 2004 with Peace, Love, Death Metal, it would have been hard to believe that the side project of Josh Homme fronted by Jesse “The Devil” Hughes would still be around over a decade later.  But sure enough, the guys are set to return this fall with the cleverly-named Zipper Down, and last week they released a video for the track “Complexity”.  It is the perfect match of ultra-serious post-punk black-and-white aesthetics and ultra-goofy scuzz rock.

The craziest news of the weekend was an Instagram post that showed a member of the Wu-Tang Clan in the studio with a legendary film composer, as GZA shared a picture of him working with Vangelis.  This unique collaboration is sure to produce some memorable results.

Television audiences will get the chance to see another exceptional team-up in a couple of weeks, as Run the Jewels is scheduled to perform with TV on the Radio on Stephen Colbert’s version of the Late Show on September 16.

There are hundreds of other sites that you could visit to get a rundown of what happened at last night’s MTV Video Music Awards, including Kanye’s acceptance of the “Video Vanguard” award, but we would like to share with you a bit of news about Mr. West that probably was not discussed at the VMA’s.  Kanye is set to do a special show at the Hollywood Bowl to perform his album 808s & Heartbreak in full, marking the first time that he would produce a live show from the unique record infamous for its heavy use of autotune.

Lou Barlow has been an integral part of several significant groups that helped shape the alternative music for decades now (Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Folk Implosion), so it is always worth checking out whatever it is that he records.  NPR has the stream for his newest solo albumBrace the Wave, available for streaming this week in advance of its September 4th release.

Finally, have some fun with this short video of Damon Albarn performing the song “Mr Tembo” in front of its namesake, an adorable baby elephant.  Contrary to the reports of the Stereogum reporter, it seems rather obvious that Mr Tembo appreciates the performance.

Over the Weekend (Nov. 24 Edition)

Some videos and other fun as you prepare for the big holiday this week…

This weekend marked the twentieth anniversary of Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy album, and there were retrospectives from both Billboard and Stereogum.  Both do a great job of talking about how the album was a turning point for the band, and how though it’s a respected effort, it’s still underrated.  I was inspired by these pieces to listen to the remastered version of the album that was released a couple of years ago, and it adds a whole new level to the record.

Our favorite new music video comes courtesy of hometown heroes Red Fang, which should be no surprise, considering their track record of great videos.  This time for “Crows In Swine” they prove that their brilliance extends even into the realm of animation.

We previously shared the lyric video for the new song from The Decemberists, and now we can link to the official music video for “Make You Better”.  It features Nick Offerman guest-starring as the host of a lost television show from the 70’s, with The Decemberists providing a goofy performance.

Rolling Stone has been publishing a ton of Foo Fighters-related material, and one of the coolest pieces they’ve done is a list of various cameos that Dave Grohl has done for various albums and performances.

Last week Sebadoh stopped by the AV Club for their Undercover series, and they performed Rush’s “Limelight”.  Personally, I feel that the band balances between taking it seriously and having fun with it, but half of my enjoyment may have been due to the various Rush fans in the comments getting offended by Lou Barlow’s ridiculous vocals.

TV on the Radio hit the Late Show with David Letterman last week to perform “Happy Idiot”, and it’s obvious that as the band hits the road in support of Seeds this is going to be a definite highlight of their set.

Speaking of late night performances, Cold War Kids went on Conan to play “All This Could Be Yours” and delivered a passionate performance of their latest single.

Before there was The Shins there was Flake Music, and Sub Pop is reissuing the only record of the predecessor band.  NPR has it up for streaming for your pleasure.  Elsewhere on their site, be sure to check out this video talking about the special way in which musicians’ brains work.

Covered: “Just Like Heaven”

Covered is a feature where we examine the merits of various cover songs, debating whether or not they capture the spirit and intent of the original, if the cover adds anything new, and whether or not it perhaps surpasses the original.  If we fail on those counts, at the very least we may expose you to different versions of great songs you hadn’t heard before.

One of my all-time favorite covers is Dinosaur Jr.’s take on one of The Cure’s biggest hits, “Just Like Heaven”.  The Dino version somehow succeeds in being both faithful to the original and irreverent at the same time.  The video above helps make my point, as the band clearly has a bit of fun with the original version by mimicking many of its dance moves, but it’s done in a gently mocking manner instead of a heavy-handed insulting way.  The distinctive bass pickup/drumfill intro remains, but this time at a quicker tempo, followed by a shimmery acoustic guitar that’s a close match to the original.  It’s when the next wave of guitars enter that changes the mood, first with a heavily wah-wah’ed backing rhythm guitar, and then followed by a guitar that’s been whammy’ed within an inch of its life that takes on the memorable melody line, instead of the delicate twinkly style of the original.  It’s at this point that this sounds like a classic Dinosaur Jr. song, though with a more danceable beat.

J Mascis matches the vulnerability of Robert Smith’s vocals, and J’s distinctive whiny drawl actually helps bring out the emotion of the lyrics.  But it’s Lou Barlow’s shouted contribution of “You!” to the power chord-heavy chorus that really seals it, and it makes me crack up every time I hear the song.  It’s so jarring and unexpected that it changes the whole demeanor of the song, but once you know it’s there, you can’t wait for it to appear again.  J then twists the melody into one of his trademark blistering solos, further putting the band’s stamp on the song.  And just when you’re expecting the release from another chorus, the song abruptly cuts out.  For years, I thought I was the victim of a shitty version of the album, but I later found out that no, everyone had the same problem; the story is that the tape ran out while they were recording the song, but they liked the take so much they shipped it as is.  To this day, the band plays it the same way, abrupt ending and all.

For a long time, the Dinosaur Jr. version was the only one I knew; I had known it was a cover, but I never felt like seeking out the original since it was rare that I was in a mood to listen to The Cure.  So it may appear that my opinion is tainted, but no less of an authority than Robert Smith himself has proclaimed himself a fan of the cover, going so far as to say that it now influences how his band plays the song live.  I like the original, but I’ll agree with Mr. Smith on this one.

BONUS TRIVIA: In the Dinosaur Jr. video, the green puppet is wearing a “Deep Wound” t-shirt, which is the hardcore band that J and Lou were in before starting up Dinosaur Jr.