Run the Jewels

Rust Is Just Right’s Best Albums of 2017

Today is April 17, and while the rest of the nation trudges through another Tax Day (a few days later this year), we here at Rust Is Just Right choose this occasion to return from the dead and release our Best Albums of the Year list.  We follow this unusual schedule for a few reasons: 1) It allows some of the albums that are released at the end of the calendar year to get some recognition, since they usually get swallowed up in the attention of the flurry of year-end lists; 2) We get the chance to analyze other lists to pick up on albums that somehow escaped our attention during the course of the year; and 3) It provides a handy consumer guide for people to focus where to spend their tax refund.

The process that is used to determine this list is highly rigorous and hardly scientific.  However, we are still in the process of attempting to patent and trademark The Process, which if you may recall, is simply tallying up the play counts on iTunes for each album.  It has served us well in years past, and a quick glance at our list this year proves that it has worked once again.

Note: Though the list is a Top 10, there are more albums than slots, because we don’t like breaking ties for the same play count.  If you’re really intent on focusing on only 10, I guess take the 10 highest performing albums from the list, but you really shouldn’t limit yourself like that if you can help it.

10. Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger in the Alps; Fleet Foxes – The Crack-Up; Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Luciferian Towers; Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory; Tyler, the Creator – Flower Boy; Wolf Parade – Cry Cry Cry (7 plays)

It should come to no surprise for our readers the band who inspired our site’s name would crack our Top Ten with our return, though their low placement on the list may raise some eyebrows.  While their return has enough artistic merit to make it more than a simple cash-in on instant nostalgia, Cry Cry Cry lacked the standout songs that marked Wolf Parade’s previous work, with the album seeming to be more competent than anything.  Still, the one-two punch of Dan Boeckner’s “Artificial Life” and Spencer Krug’s “King of Piss and Paper” (reversed for the video) should alleviate the worries of any fans that the Canadian supergroup still has gas left in the tank.

I felt bad for the short people behind me

Wolf Parade, at the Crystal Ballroom

Tyler, the Creator bounced back from a couple of forgettable efforts with an ambitious album that recalls why fans were so impressed with the Odd Future crew back when “Yonkers” first hit, mixing bangers with surprisingly introspective tracks.  We’ll leave the discussion about the lyrical prowess of Vince Staples to others (they never really impressed us that much, but the words aren’t usually our focus), but the beats on Big Fish Theory were a goddamn revelation considering the malaise that seems to be spreading over modern hip-hop these days.  We’re not sure what gets the party going with the kids these days, but bump Vince’s latest on your headphones and you should be set for one heart-pumping adventure.

Much like Dinosaur Jr., another iconic alternative group, Godspeed has shown new life after their return from their prolonged hiatus.  However, as good as their recent albums have been, they seem to be following a similar arc where the third album doesn’t quite have the juice of its two predecessors.  That said, the climax of “Bosses Hang” is exactly what we need these days.

Phoebe is the newcomer to the party, and her delicate debut is perfect for late-night listens.

9. Dieg Cig – Swear I’m Good at This; The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding (8 plays)

What can we say–we love duos.  The mix of the sugar-sweet vocals with the propulsive punk makes Diet Cig a welcome addition to the garage rock revival.  The War on Drugs exceeded our expectations; we had begun to get tired of the band’s style (and had read too many critiques of their sound), so we weren’t exactly pumped for their latest.  However, there are plenty of songs on Understanding which will make the band’s eventual Greatest Hits release.  That said, we pray that on the next album Adam Granduciel learns you can use drum patterns besides ones that hit on 2 and 4.

The War on Drugs, at the Crystal Ballroom

8. Alvvays – Antisocialites; Beck – Colors; LCD Soundsystem – American Dream; Protomartyr – Relatives in Descent (9 plays)

Alvvays went a bit darker with their follow-up to their self-titled debut, and added new textures to their indie-pop sound.  Beck finally released his often-teased follow-up to the Album of the Year winning Morning Phase, and while it seems the rest of the country wasn’t psyched for a return of “fun” Beck, we found this album plenty enjoyable.  Beck may have fussed over individual sounds endlessly before the release of Colors, but repeated listens prove it was well worth the effort.  LCD Soundsystem was another welcome return of indie rock royalty, and though it seems they may have stalled a bit creatively after their wonderful initial three album run, “Call the Police” was worth the price of admission in and of itself (though we wish they could have found a way to include the teaser single “Christmas Will Break Your Heart” on the album).  Protomartyr further honed their sound of post-punk mixed with the ravings of an esoteric college professor.  Relatives was not as initially catchy as The Agent Intellect, so it may discourage new fans, but eventually it hooks your way into your brain–see how the line “She’s just trying to reach you” keeps repeating throughout and how it fits with the themes of the record.  The lyric from the Michigan band of “It’s been leaded by snider men to make profit from the poor” might be the best line from 2017, but it’s the following line I keep repeating in my head: “I don’t want to hear those vile trumpets anymore.”

Protomartyr, at the Doug Fir

7. Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder; The National – Sleep Well Beast (10 plays)

Hug of Thunder might be the most consistent front-to-back record in the BSS catalog, with several songs that are just really damn uplifting.

Broken Social Scene, at the Crystal Ballroom

By contrast, Sleep Well Beast is a step down for The National, but they’ve been on fire since Alligator and you can’t expect them to maintain perfection forever.  The electronic flourishes to the album are a nice touch, and there are several standout songs that will be great additions to the average setlist.  Simply put, the album gets dinged only because it pales in comparison to their recent string of successes.

The National, at the Schnitz

6. Death From Above 1979 – Outrage! Is Now; Queens of the Stone Age – Villains; Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 3 (11 plays)

Death From Above officially dropped the “1979” from their name, but it’s going to take us a while to get used to it.  However, we are thrilled that the return to form of The Physical World was no mere fluke, and we’re exceedingly pleased to see the band continue to evolve.  At first, it may seems the album dips in the middle, but after a few times through it becomes clear the forays into sludgier metal riffs are a welcome evolution for the duo (and will help save the stamina of a singing drummer).  Hell, see how easy they make metal look with the hard-hitting opener, “Nomad”.  We may overrate these guys compared to others, but honestly, we have no idea why “Freeze Me” wasn’t a bigger summer hit.

Death From Above, at the Roseland

It took a few times though to get on the same wavelength as QOTSA for their latest, with our initial impression being that a few of the better songs would have worked just fine as Eagles of Death Metal tracks instead.  But once we got lost in the sound and feel of the record, we began to appreciate it more.  Also, “Villains of Circumstance” will be remembered as one of their best ever.

Queens of the Stone Age, at the Hult Center

RTJ is in a strange position, because the schedule of their leak and official release had them straddling the line between 2016 and 2017 lists, but this feels like the right spot for them (if we included every single listen since its release, it would tie for the top spot).  RTJ3 isn’t as lean as its predecessors, but there’s plenty here that will leave listeners longing to hear the continuing saga of Jamie and Mikey.

Run the Jewels, at the Crystal Ballroom

5. Joey Bada$$ – All-Amerikkkan Bada$$; The xx – I See You (12 plays)

A couple of surprises make it into the top half of the list!  We were not impressed with Joey’s debut, but All-Amerikkan Bada$$ is an impressive step forward, effectively mixing groovy R&B and political hip-hop.

We thought The xx had already begun running out of creativity with the decent Coexist, but it turns out there is still juice left in their minimalist indie rock.  Who knew you could make introverted love songs so danceable?

4. Big K.R.I.T. – 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time (13 plays)

Big K.R.I.T.’s ambitious new record easily slides into the trinity of Wu-Tang Forever and All Eyez on Me on the list of greatest hip-hop double albums.  Though nominally split between his two personalities with the party anthem heavy “Big K.R.I.T.” and the introspective gospel-tinged “Justin Scott”, the album flows just fine as one long piece.  Hell, even the few skits on the album can be listened to more than once!

3. Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound; Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins; Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life (14 plays)

Now here’s a triumvirate you would expect from us.  Japandroids got an early jump on everybody with a January release, which partially explains their high ranking on this list, though we don’t want you to put too much in that disclaimer.  Wild Heart of Life is a half-brilliant, half-decent album, which explains our reluctance to fully commit to any direction in our assessment.  The title track opener is an all-time great for the band, and the run from “Midnight to Morning”, “No Known Drink or Drug”, and “In a Body Like a Grave” finish the album on a rousing note.  It’s the middle songs which sag, though we appreciate them as experimental forays necessary for a duo who wish to have a long career.

Japandroids, at Revolution Hall

Grizzly Bear once again returns with an album that sounds great on headphones, begging for you to pick out more and more details with each listen, all in a style that’s perfect for either driving in the car or listening late at night.

Grizzly Bear, at the Roseland

Cloud Nothings made the most consistently brilliant punk record of the year, and goddammit I hope that band keeps moving on to bigger and better things.

Cloud Nothings, at the Doug Fir

2. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.; Spoon – Hot Thoughts (16 plays)

After the overflowing To Pimp a Butterfly, a record that placed a lot of its emphasis on being a complete album, it seemed Kendrick was coming back with a series of hard-hitting singles–“Humble.” and “DNA.” were huge, aggressive tracks which got everybody fired up for the release.  The initial impression of DAMN. as a series of singles eventually proved to be incorrect, as Kendrick revealed more of the thought process behind the album.  For us, though, the switch was flipped when the “Collector’s Edition” was released, which flipped the tracklisting from back-to-front.  All of a sudden, the album seemed to have a much better flow, and its themes became more readily apparent.

What more can be said about Spoon?  The band is incapable of releasing a less-than-great album at this point, and Hot Thoughts shows off a fun side that had been hiding in the background for a few years at this point.  Britt and the guys walk the tightrope of staying true to their “sound” while not repeating themselves–for example, the funky “Can I Sit Next To You” fits right alongside their early hit “I Turn My Camera On” without it being a rehash.

Spoon, at the McDonald Theater

We love the whole album, but we’re going to keep the somber “I Ain’t the One” and the relevant-to-these-times “Tear It Down” on repeat.

1. Slowdive – Slowdive (17 plays)

The return of My Bloody Valentine may have inspired more ink, but we appreciated the return of the other titans of shoegaze more.  Slowdive fits right in next to Souvlaki and Just for a Day, but doesn’t feel like a mere revival of their early-90’s peak.  The music is as gorgeous as ever, venturing from the delicate haunting vocals in the ballads to the big rush of guitars in the epics.

Slowdive, at the Crystal Ballroom

We’re not sure if we’ll look back in ten years and definitively say we made the right choice on the number one album of 2017, but we’re confident in saying we’ll still love the hell out of this album.

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Over the Weekend (Nov. 2 Edition)

New music, new videos, and other fun stuff to help start off your week…

Halloween has come and gone, but that does not mean we have to stop sharing “scary” music videos.  The bands White Lung and Pink Mountaintops have joined forces to collaborate as the super-group “Pink Lung” for a special compilation EP, and have created a Halloween-inspired video for their contribution “Chinese Watermelon”.  It is quite bizarre, and shares a certain sensibility with the old Japanese horror film House with its penchant for odd, dark humor and cheesy effects.

EL VY also joined in on the Halloween fun, releasing a video for “Silent Ivy Hotel” that was inspired by the celebration of the holiday.  It is a perfect match of song and theme, since the tune has elements that are reminiscent of such spooky classics as “I Put A Spell on You” and “The Munsters Theme”, among others.

Halloween videos were not the only ones that were released last week, as Kendrick Lamar shared the short film for his track “These Walls”, which features a great mid-song dance break with both Kendrick Lamar and actor Terry Crews.  Everyone looks like they had a good time with this one, but the video does end on a cliffhanger.

If you were wondering what the hell was the point of Meow The Jewels, you are in luck, since Run The Jewels has released a short documentary explaining the creation of the charity album.

Finally, we have another Maynard James Keenan interview for your perusal, as he answers “11 Questions” for The AV Club.

Over the Weekend (Oct. 26 Edition)

News, new videos, and other fun stuff to help you get through the week…

The biggest news of the weekend was the announcement that David Bowie will be releasing a new album next year.  There should be high hopes for Blackstar when it comes out on January 8, since Bowie’s last record (The Next Day) was pretty damn good. In other words, this is not merely the case of fans expressing nostalgia for the golden years of a legendary artist, but legitimate excitement for a new album–especially if it is as “completely bonkers”as one “insider” suggested.

Run The Jewels 2 was released a year ago today, and to celebrate the occasion, Run The Jewels has released a music video for “Angel Duster”, which features footage of the duo performing all around the country.

EL VY has released another lyric video from their upcoming album Return to the Moon, which will be released this Friday.  This time the duo of Matt Berninger (The National) and Brent Knopf (Menomena, Ramona Falls) have a video for the bouncy “Need a Friend”.

You may want to make sure you catch the The Late Show with Stephen Colbert tonight, because Chance the Rapper is set to release a new song with Stephen himself on the show.

In case you did not get your fix of write-ups on Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Consequence of Sound has a ranking of all 28 tracks.  Quibbles: the title track and “Here Is No Why” are underrated, “Galapagos” and “Porcelina of the Vast Oceans” are overrated.  But at least the top track is correct.

That is not the only list CoS prepared last week–they have one that documents “25 Essential Performances” from Pearl Jam to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the band’s first show.

And finally, this list serves as a bit of homework for our readers, as Stereogum lists the 50 Best New Bands of 2015.  We will definitely be consulting this list for the next few days, and it is probably a good idea if our readers do the same as well.

Over the Weekend (Oct. 12 Edition)

New music, new videos, and other fun stuff to help you get through the week…

After some rumblings and hints in the past few months, the music press was quick to pounce on the news that Gorillaz are working on material for a new album to be released next year, as per an interview with Jamie Hewlett in DIY.  There was not much more confirmation beyond a simple statement, but fans have long been itching for a follow-up to 2010’s Plastic Beach.

Considering that it was only a few weeks ago that Depression Cherry came out, the news that Beach House is set to release another album this Friday came as a shock to fans and journalists alike.  The duo stressed that Thank Your Lucky Stars is not a B-Sides collection or remnants from previous sessions, but its own full-fledged album.  Stereogum has an interesting piece talking about the various clues that the band had hidden away in their website.

Foals released the video for their song “Give It All” today, and the video is a rather cinematic tale of a a doomed romance.  There is even a director’s cut available with a different ending available.

Real Estate frontman Martin Courtney is releasing his debut solo album Many Moons at the end of the month, and today shared the single “Airport Bar” from the record, a laid-back and easy-going affair that would have fit in quite nicely with the past couple of albums of his main gig.

Low released a video for the gorgeous Ones and Sixes track “Lies”, and the heartbreaking depiction of the struggles of a day laborer is a perfect fit for the melancholic beauty of the song.

“Over the Rainbow” is one of the most popular and recognizable songs of the twentieth century, and PBS takes a look at the composition of the song and how it captured the hearts of so many people.

Hutch Harris of The Thermals talked to Baeble about his entry into the world of standup comedy, and if you follow @thethermals on Twitter, you would not be surprised that the man behind one of the most consistently funny accounts in music has decided to jump into those waters.

In a post that is sure to delight some and anger many more, Deadspin takes a look at fourteen different times that Jay Z has been “owned” by another rapper on one of his tracks, though many of these selections have Jay occupying a guest spot.  We are disappointed that Ja Rule did not make the list.

We have long failed to provide an adequate number of cat videos on this site, and locally Run The Jewels is helping us out in fulfilling our quota.  They have released a ridiculously goofy video for “Oh My Darling (Don’t Meow)” from Meow The Jewels, which should fulfill all your Laser Cats fanfic desires.

Over the Weekend (Oct. 5 Edition)

News, new music, and other fun stuff to help kickoff your week…

We linked to multiple articles about Radiohead’s Kid A on Friday, so naturally we have another piece related to the band today.  Diffuser has a slideshow attempting to come up with a suitable American version of Radiohead, and to their credit, they think outside the box of “a few dudes with guitars”, though we are sure their choices would cause some amount of debate.

Bloc Party is set to release a new album entitled Hymns next year, and today they released the first track from the record.  Since Four, the band has shuffled their lineup a bit, including adding Justin Harris of Menomena to the group, and the electronic-influenced “The Love Within” is our first glimpse at the result.

Run The Jewels released a new single this week, sharing the gritty track “Rubble Kings Theme (Dynamite)” from the documentary Rubble Kings.

The title for Best Example of Clickbait from last week was the announcement that scientists have determined Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as the most iconic song of all time.  Certainly there is more to the story, but feel free to argue among yourselves as to whether or not the result makes sense.

There are a couple of great interviews that we recommend for your perusal this week.  First, Alan Sparhawk of Low talks to The Quietus about the band’s career in a serious and insightful discussion, and then you can lighten things up with the always entertaining Jesse Hughes from Eagles of Death Metal, who opens up to Consequence of Sound about his various personal contradictions.

We linked to a couple of clips of this show a couple of weeks back, but now feel free to rock out to the full concert footage of the supergroup performance of The Stooges’s iconic album Raw Power, featuring Mark Arm, Mike McCready, Duff McKagan, and Barrett Martin performing on the rooftop of Pike Place Market.

Finally, we recommend you check out this Tiny Desk Concert from our newest favorite Greek musician, Lianne LaHavas, who possesses a gorgeous voice that should help brighten up your week.

Over the Weekend (Sept. 21 Edition)

News, new music, videos, and other fun stuff to help you get through the week…

After months of waiting, Run The Jewels finally released their highly-anticipated Meow The Jewels, a joke-remix album for charity that had several producers and musicians recreating the brilliant record Run The Jewels 2 using only cat noises.  If you want to take a listen, a free download is available through the RTJ website, and yes, it is about as ridiculous as you would expect.  As you enjoy such great remixes as “Paw Due Respect”, be sure to read El-P’s interview with Deadspin discussing the project.

Of course, if you want to listen to a more traditional version of Run The Jewels, we highly recommend that you check out their electrifying performance with TV on the Radio for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, if you have not done so already.  Speaking of Mr. Colbert, he had a busy week last week, with the highlight probably being his vocal assistance on Pearl Jam’s cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World” to close out one of his shows.

The team-up between Colbert and Pearl Jam was part of a promotion for Saturday’s Global Citizen Festival, with Stephen helping to host and Pearl Jam closing out the festivities.  One of the highlights of Pearl Jam’s set had to have been Eddie Vedder’s performance with the one and only Beyonce of Bob Marley’s classic song “Redemption Song”, though you may have to search for the video yourself as different versions keep getting deleted.

In other news, The Strokes informed announced to the crowd at their recent D.C. show that the band will soon be recording a new album, which we personally hope will be better than Comedown Machine.

Broken Bells premiered a new concert film over the weekend entitled Live at the Orpheum, and the group shared a new track to help promote the movie, an upbeat track with a jittery disco beat called “It’s That Talk Again”.

Don Cheadle has a new film about Miles Davis coming out next month, and Vulture has a brief primer on the legendary musician for those who would appreciate some background before seeing the movie.

And finally, be sure to set your DVRs or plan your schedules accordingly, because Austin City Limits announced that they will be taping shows with Kendrick Lamar as well as D’Angelo and the Vanguard in the next few weeks.  Both of those should be memorable performances.

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.

Project Pabst 2015 Day 1 Recap

Last year’s Project Pabst was an unqualified success, so it made sense for the organizers to make the festival an annual event instead of a one-off celebration.  Even though it could be argued that this year’s lineup was a step below last year’s edition, Project Pabst offered easily the best selection from a burgeoning Portland festival scene.  And so once again, Rust Is Just Right made the trek up north to enjoy a weekend’s worth of music in a gravel pit.

Into the clown's mouth...

Into the clown’s mouth…

As great as many of the performances were throughout the weekend, the defining characteristic of Project Pabst was how goddamn hot the entire event was.  I feel ashamed to be complaining about the heat since I spent my childhood playing pickup basketball during the unbearable Louisiana summer months, but living in Oregon has unfortunately made me soft.  Temperatures hit triple digits on the first day, and the primary concern was locating shade wherever it was available, with making sure the sunscreen was still effective a close second.  Actually, the heat was not the problem–it was the sun beating down mercilessly upon all of our heads that contributed to the crowd’s relative misery more than anything.  This was in stark contrast to last year’s edition, which took place at the end of September, and it seems as if the organizers made no effort to alter the accommodations to prepare for the drastic change in weather.

Against Me! declares that "Gender Is Over"

Against Me! declares that “Gender Is Over”

The first set that we caught came from punk rockers Against Me! who delivered a fiery set that was better than their early-afternoon slot would indicate.  Variety is not Against Me!’s strong suit, and as a result their music tends to run a bit on the formulaic side especially when you focus on the drums and bass parts.  However, the band’s energy easily won me over, which is more than I could say for the heat-stricken crowd–I was surprised to see the relatively listless reaction to the band’s breakthrough hit “Thrash Unreal”.

Why have one drummer when you can have two?

Why have one drummer when you can have two?

Thee Oh Sees kept the punk spirit rolling with their set, delivering their garage-rock at a breakneck speed and with an extra helping of pure cacophony.  The band would have won a trophy for “Most Treble” if any such award was given, which is somewhat ironic considering the number of intriguing bass lines that were sprinkled throughout their set.  For the most part, the group rarely exploited the fact that they had two drummers, choosing to have the two play duplicate parts instead of contrasting or complementary parts.  Their set quickly began to wear thin, with each short burst of fury practically indistinguishable from each other; a full hour was too much, a fact that the band acknowledged when they expressed surprise that they still had twenty-five minutes left in their set.   At this point, Thee Oh Sees became the soundtrack to a food break, where I opted once again for the mediocre Muffaletta sandwich.

TV on the Radio attempt to beat the heat

TV on the Radio attempt to beat the heat

TV on the Radio put on one of the best shows of last year, so they were one of the bands I was looking forward to seeing the most this weekend.  Like many of the other acts, however, they were not prepared for the relentless heat, as seen by the fact that most of the band was dressed entirely in black.  The band performed with the same intensity and passion as they did last winter, though on occasion the sound mix was not as up to the quality of that previous show; this was most obvious during “Could You”, when the song was dangerously close to falling apart for most of its running time.  The thrilling finale of “Staring at the Sun” served as a microcosm of the set, as initial enthusiasm soon fizzled and the crowd began anticipating a move to the second stage.   The set did nothing to diminish TVOTR in my eyes, but due to the conditions outside of their control it is unlikely they earned many new fans with this performance.

Run the Jewels owned the weekend.

Run the Jewels owned the weekend.

The unquestioned highlight of the whole weekend for me was the chance to finally see Run the Jewels live.  Killer Mike and El-P totally lived up to expectations, as they proved to be one of the most dynamic acts touring today.  In contrast with a lot of hip-hop sets, the duo was able to keep spirits high as they seemingly fed off each other’s energy, with Trackstar the DJ doing a fantastic job manning the 1 and 2.  The crowd ate it all up, with a majority ready to throw up the fist-and-gun hand gestures at a moment’s notice.  Two audience members who had a blast during the set were Del the Funky Homosapien and A-Plus, a fact that I realized when I saw them perform later that night.

Blondie bringing out the big guns...a keytar

Blondie bringing out the big guns…a keytar

Blondie was the headlining nostalgia act this year, taking over the spot held previously by Tears for Fears.  I was surprised at the lack of buzz that greeted these legends, especially in comparison to last year’s feverish anticipation for Tears for Fears, but it is not as if I was compensating for the lack of enthusiasm myself.  It was a strange and ragged set that managed to not only to display the variety of hits the band has had over the years but to include a random cover of “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)” (mirroring last year’s TFF set).  Of all things, I felt that a random keytar solo during “Call Me” was the best summary of the performance.

This would have been a nice finale to the evening...

This would have been a nice finale to the evening…

Saturday night was all set to have a thrilling conclusion with Ghostface Killah joining up with BADBADNOTGOOD to perform from their collaboration Sour Soul, except for the fact that Ghostface never showed up.  Stuff like this happens, but the way that the organizers of the show handled the situation was inexcusable.  There may not have been a hotter spot in Portland than the Crystal Ballroom that night, and the fact that the crowd was left in the dark for an hour before BADBADNOTGOOD had to reveal the bad news themselves was inexcusable; at least give the audience a chance to decide to bail or not, and inform them why they are suffering in the heat for so long.  BADBADNOTGOOD tried to make amends and delivered a technically-proficient and spirited jazz-fusion set, but it was impossible to overcome the letdown that the news of Ghostface’s absence had caused.

Random Notes

Number of free water refills: 4

Number of beards longer than mine: 3, including Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio

Number of comments on my shirt (Neutral Milk Hotel Gramophone/Aeroplane): 0

Over the Weekend (May 18 Edition)

New music, new videos, and other fun stuff as we recover from illness*…

Run The Jewels are seemingly intent on releasing videos for every track from last year’s stellar release Run The Jewels 2, and the video for “Early” might be their best one yet.  The video tackles the topic of police brutality like previous single “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)”, but opting for animation this go-around.

Ghostface Killah has been extremely busy lately, releasing 36 Seasons last year and Sour Soul with BADBADNOTGOOD earlier this year, and later this summer he will be releasing the sequel to the fantastic concept album Twelve Reasons To Die.  Today Ghostface released the first track from the collaboration with Adrian Younge, with fellow Wu-Tang member Raekwon contributing to “Return of the Savage”.  Stereogum has the SoundCloud link.

Tame Impala keeps trickling out new tracks from their upcoming album Currents, as “Eventually” was released last week.

Noisey talks to Yuck’s Max Bloom about one of his favorite new bands, and he uses the opportunity to talk about Vaadat Charigim.  It was pretty obvious that Max had great taste in 90’s indie rock considering his band’s own albums, and it sounds like he has a great ear for shoegaze as well.

Rolling Stone has the surreal short film that Soundgarden used to introduce their Superunknown tour, so those of us who were unable to attend that tour can find out what they missed.

Having previously compiled a playlist for another band with an expansive and eclectic discography (Built To Spill), the AV Club provides a service once again for those looking to get further into the music of Blur.  The result, sad to say, is not particularly good, and features the writer completely misunderstanding the Metacritic grading system (as witnessed multiple times in the comments, where she defends saying that The Magic Whip got “mixed reviews” when by their own metric Metacritic gives it a “Universal Approval” stamp).

Finally, the music world lost one of its greatest members, and a true titan, with the death of B.B. King late last week.  Billboard provides an excellent look at King’s legendary career.

*We apologize for our absence, as a stomach flu hit our writing staff with a vengeance last week.  We will run the planned Thursday post tomorrow, and then proceed as normal.  Not only did we lose two days of articles, but the illness also prevented us from covering a performance from one of our favorite live acts, Local H.  Hopefully they swing by again as soon as possible.

Over the Weekend (Apr. 27 Edition)

New music, new videos, and news to help kickstart your week…

Even though they recently announced a string of tour dates this summer, we have to believe that no one was prepared for the news from this morning: Refused are coming out with a new album.  In addition to announcing that Freedom will be released on June 30, the band released their first new song in nearly two decades, the furious “Elektra”.  REFUSED ARE NOT FUCKING DEAD!

More good news this morning, as the Deftones gave more details about their follow-up to Koi No Yokan.  While the new album is not yet complete, the good news is that it should be released by the end of September.

Last week, Speedy Ortiz released their new album Foil Deer and on Friday we linked to an extensive interview with the band.  Today, we are sharing their video for “The Graduates”, featuring the band ingesting an interesting item, resulting in a bizarre karaoke session with a giant rabbit, among other escapades.

Speedy Ortiz is not the only band exploring psychedelic substances, as Death From Above 1979’s new video for “Virgins” features a group of Amish teens experimenting with mushrooms.  The results are rather unsettling.

And speaking of unsettling, electronic noise-rock band HEALTH are finally releasing a follow-up to Get Color in August, and they shared the video for lead single “New Coke” over the weekend.  Be warned, that is real vomit in the video; that is probably that is all that needs to be said in order to prepare you.

Killer Mike had a very busy weekend–on Friday, he gave a lecture at MIT on race and politics, and on Saturday he represented the Huffington Post at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which explains this fantastic selfie with Arianna Huffington completing the Run The Jewels logo.

Proving that we here at Rust Is Just Right are trendsetters, the AV Club released a Best Of list from 2014 in April 2015.  This time it is their Band Names of the Year list, which runs down all the terrible band names they came across in the past year, which is always a good time.

And finally, for those looking for a quick time-waster at work, NME has a slideshow explaining the stories behind 50 iconic album covers of indie rock (though the term “indie” is stretched beyond its limits for this piece).