The War on Drugs

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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Rust Is Just Right’s Best Albums of 2014

Today is April 15, and while the rest of the nation celebrates Tax Day, we here at Rust Is Just Right choose this occasion to 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/gives them an added checklist when they head out to their local record stores this weekend for Record Store Day.

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.  Also, we have reviews for all of these albums, so for those of you seeking a more detailed analysis all you need to do is click the appropriate tag above.

10. Alvvays – Alvvays; Aphex Twin – Syro; Nothing – Guilty of Everything; Real Estate – Atlas (8 plays)

Alvvays and Nothing edge themselves onto the list with fantastic debut albums, the former being a sublime beach-pop record and the latter finding an intriguing mix between shoegaze and metal.  Real Estate’s latest would make a great companion album to the Alvvays record on any future trip to the coast, with the band further refining their laid-back, easy-going vibe with some of their most tightly-constructed songs of their career, like “Talking Backwards” and “Crimes”.  The only reason why Aphex Twin’s fantastic comeback effort is so low on the list is that we in general do not spend much time listening to electronica; otherwise, it would have ended up much higher on our list.

9. Beck – Morning Phase; Ought – More Than Any Other Day; Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal; Solids – Blame Confusion (9 plays)

We never grew to love Sunbathing Animal in the same way that we did Light Up Gold, so its inclusion on the list is mainly due to our insistence on trying to gain a greater appreciation through repeated listens; that said, it did have its moments, like “Dear Ramona” and “Instant Disassembly”, that we would love to hear the next time they roll through the Northwest.  Ought’s debut album is the perfect example of why we delay the publication of our list, since their fascinating debut did not come onto our radar until after we saw it on another year-end list, and it soon became one of our favorites with its intriguing take on garage rock and post-punk.  We jumped in early on the Solids bandwagon, and were pleased to see that the duo’s fuzz-rock had some staying power over the course of the year.  And we hope that Beck is as proud of his showing on our list as he is of the Grammy that he got for his gorgeous new album.

8. The Antlers – Familiars; Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else; Cymbals Eat Guitars – LOSE (10 plays)

Cymbals Eat Guitars surprised a lot of people with the leap forward that they took on LOSE, an ambitious, anthemic guitar rock masterpiece.  Cloud Nothings somehow came back with an even rawer record than Attack on Memory, and in the process became more of a cohesive group, with the furious drumming being a noteworthy highlight.  As for The Antlers, this is becoming old hat for them, because they once again delivered an incredible record, this time meditating on reconciling the internal struggle, dressed up in hauntingly gorgeous hooks.

7. Fucked Up – Glass Boys; Sharon Van Etten – Are We There? (11 plays)

We may have been in the minority with our disappointment in David Comes to Life, but Fucked Up more than made up for it with the punchy Glass Boys.  As for Sharon Van Etten, she continues to find the perfect balance between the pain and sadness of her lyrics and the beauty of her music.

6. The Black Keys – Turn Blue (13 plays)

Though there is probably a sizable contingent of people who are tired of The Black Keys at this point, we are not in that subset.  Turn Blue was the right step after the arena-rock of El Camino, and we love it when they collaborate with Danger Mouse.  Also, the guitar solos in “The Weight of Love” were probably the year’s best.

5. Interpol – El Pintor; Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2 (14 plays)

After their disappointing self-titled album and the polarizing Our Love to Admire, Interpol gave itself a needed shot in the arm with El Pintor.  Though on paper it seems that dropping the band’s “secret weapon” Carlos D. was a bad idea, Paul Banks comfortably assumed those duties and seemed to reinvigorate the rest of the band with their strongest effort since Antics.  Run The Jewels proved that sequels can improve upon the originals, with Killer Mike throwing down some of the best verses of his career.


4. TV on the Radio – Seeds; The War on Drugs – Lost In The Dream (15 plays)

A lot of critics seemed to have slept on Seeds, but any visit to see TV on the Radio on their latest tour should quiet any doubts that people had about the band.  It is an album about finding strength through loss, and the band crafted some of its best songs in the wake of the loss of bass player Gerard Smith.  The War on Drugs improved upon their initial breakthrough Slave Ambient by shaping their soundscapes into more cohesive “songs”, but the album is still a delight to listen to with the headphones cranked up to listen to all the different sonic details.


3. Hamilton Leithauser – Black Hours; Peter Matthew Bauer – Liberation!; Spoon – They Want My Soul (17 plays)

It is fitting that two of the solo albums from one of our favorite bands would end up in a tie; though we mourn the apparent loss of The Walkmen, we should rejoice that we have been blessed with multiple excellent albums already.  Each captured distinct parts of their previous band’s sound–Hamilton’s penchant for vintage sounds, Peter with the charming raggedness of their music.  Spoon once again proved that they are the most consistently brilliant band in indie rock for the past 15 years, as They Want My Soul effectively captures the band’s past sound as well as finds new ways to innovate, with songs like “New York Kiss” and “Outlier”.


2. The Men – Tomorrow’s Hits (19 plays)

This is perhaps the best example of the peculiarities of The Process, as the placement of Tomorrow’s Hits was partially inflated by just how much fun it is to drive around playing this record.  The band looked backwards for inspiration, re-configuring the sound of a bar band from the 70’s to create one of the most entertaining records of the year.  The Men have been busy throughout their career, releasing five records and five years, so we should probably be expecting a sixth record soon.


1. Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World (23 plays)

We have been in love with this album since the second we heard the opening notes of “Trainwreck 1979”.  Death From Above 1979 made the most of the ten years off since their debut, finding the perfect balance between recreating the magic of their early work while moving ahead into new and exciting directions.  You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine still holds up hundreds of years later, and The Physical World looks like it will repeat the same feat.  The band still has the same ferocious energy as when they first burst on the scene, but it is clear that both Sebastien and Jesse have improved as musicians, finding new ways to create original music through the simple tools of bass and drums (with the occasional synth).  Hopefully we do not have to wait another ten years for the next step.

Over the Weekend (Jan. 12 Edition)

Videos, live performances, lists, and general news as we determine the superior “O” state once and for all…

We left a ton of material on the table for today’s post, and with the flurry of news this morning our roundup is even more overstuffed than usual.  So let’s dive right in with the surprise release of the music video for the Beastie Boys track “Too Many Rappers”, featuring Nas in both audio and visual form.  While it’s sad to remember that Hot Sauce Committee Part Two will be the last album we ever hear from the Beasties, but it’s certainly great to have some more footage of the crew having fun together.

NPR has streams for two highly-anticipated new albums available this week.  First, there’s the long-awaited return of critical darlings and Pacific Northwest favorites Sleater-Kinney, who are releasing their first album in ten years next week with No Cities to Love.  Then there’s the self-titled debut of Viet Cong, who have garnered a ridiculous amount of buzz among various indie blogs in the past couple of months.  I don’t yet have the same enthusiasm, though it may take a few more listens of their noisy guitar rock to convince me.

Ghostface Killah seemingly never stops working, because after releasing his solo album 36 Seasons last month (and appearing on The Wu-Tang Clan’s A Better Tomorrow), he’s set to release another album next month.  This time it’s a collaboration with BADBADNOTGOOD, with their record Sour Soul set to be released February 17.  Their latest track, “Ray Gun”, features a guest spot from DOOM and has a nice grimy funk feel, complemented by some gorgeous strings.  Stereogum has more information, including links to previously released tracks, for your perusal.

There’s also a trio of album releases that were announced this morning.  Death Cab For Cutie is releasing Kintsugi on March 31st and will be their first album “without” founding guitarist Chris Walla, who while no longer a member of the band still has a presence on the album.  Sufjan Stevens is releasing Carrie & Lowell on the same day, which we can take as further proof that the “50 States” project is dead.  And Waxahatchee will be releasing Ivy Tripp on April 7th, and you should probably click the link because Pitchfork has helpfully included the new track “Air”.  We were big fans of her previous album Cerulean Salt, and while this sounds a bit more polished than that lo-fi classic, sounding like a stripped-down Joy Formidable is something we can support.

It’s disappointing that a once-vibrant genre as Country has become just a bunch of homogenized pablum, and worse yet is the fact that every year it continues to get worse.  The genre has just  become Nickelback with a half-assed over-enunciated Southern accent, and that’s a damn shame.  The thing is, consumers are at least partly to blame, since as The Atlantic points out, uniformity is what sells.

Last week featured some great musical guests on the Late Night shows, including performances from such RIJR favorites The War On Drugs (who performed the epic “An Ocean In Between The Waves” on The Tonight Show) and Parquet Courts delivering a dynamite version of “Bodies Made of” on Letterman, a song that initially sounds like a poor choice for the national stage until it gets to its epic breakdown.  But the standout of the week was Foxygen and Star Power performing “How Can You Really” on The Late Show, which prompted an enthusiastic response from Dave himself.

We here at Rust Is Just Right are always down for hearing more from Spoon, so we are pleased to share their appearance on Austin City Limits over the weekend as well as their guest spot on Sound Opinions.  We’ll see if we can go the rest of the week without mentioning them, but don’t bet on it.

And finally, a couple of fun lists that can either be used as a discovery tool or merely as argument fodder.  Stereogum has a list of “30 Essential Post-Rock” songs which along with usual suspects Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Sigur Rós, and Explosions in the Sky includes several other bands that may not be as well known, though this may partially be due to a broad definition of “post-rock”.  You can have an argument about that specific topic as well as the following list from Complex, which goes through each year since 1979 to anoint “The Best Rapper Alive”.

Catching Up On The Week (Dec. 12 Edition)

Some #longreads as you try to stop laughing every time you hear “Pineapple Express” on the local weather report…

Earlier this month, the Pixies released a three-disc reissue of their classic album Doolittle for its 25th anniversary, and I truly mean “classic” in every sense of the word.  The AV Club has a roundtable devoted to the album, and the band’s label at the time 4AD has created an interactive version of the liner notes online.  Be sure to check those out as you blast that album the rest of the weekend.

For those more interested in current music, Consequence of Sound has named their Band of the Year and Artist of the Year, and they are Rust Is Just Right favorites The War On Drugs and Run The Jewels, respectively.  As such, they each get the extended profile and retrospective treatment.

Because it’s always fun to read his interviews, we’re going to link to a Rolling Stone piece with Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers answering questions from Twitter.  You’ll find stories about their infamous socks costume, potential future drum battles with Will Ferrell, and updates on their new album.

In more serious news, this week saw the release from the Senate Intelligence Committee on the use of torture by the CIA in the last decade.  Among the various methods employed was the use of music, in different forms, and Vox has a breakdown of the psychological connections that humans with music and how the CIA exploited them.

The War On Drugs, Live at the Crystal Ballroom

It’s only been a few short months since we last saw The War On Drugs live in Portland, and the upgrade in venue from the Wonder to the Crystal matches their surging popularity over the course of this year.  When we last saw them, the band had just released their latest album Lost In The Dream to stellar reviews and they seemed poised to break through into the mainstream; eight months later, as Lost starts appearing at the top of everyone’s lists for album of the year and the band has a bona fide radio hit with “Red Eyes” (which by kicking off KNRK’s “December to Remember” series of concerts last night confirmed), it’s clear that The War On Drugs have arrived.  And just as they did back in the spring, the band came through with a spirited set that left an even larger audience buzzing.

Thanks to the bizarre layout mandated by the OLCC, a solid dead-center shot for this pic.

Thanks to the bizarre layout mandated by the OLCC, a solid dead-center shot for this pic.

After months of touring, the band’s setlist is a well-oiled machine: a strong natural flow has developed between the ballads and uptempo material, and the transitions between songs have now been smoothed over to minimize the delay for tuning and pedal adjustments.  As to be expected, material from Lost In The Dream dominated the setlist, with eight of the ten tracks represented (only the instrumental “The Haunting Idle” and the dirge-like “Suffering” failed to make the cut).  The peppy “Burning” made for a strong opener and set the mood, but it took the opening clicks of “Under the Pressure” for the crowd to begin making some real noise.  That was nothing however in comparison to their response to “An Ocean in Between the Waves”, which due in no small part to its extended solos received a generous applause and some hollers.

It’s clear that despite the affection the crowd had for the band and the new album, it didn’t inspire most of them to go back and pick up the early material, as cuts from Wagonwheel Blues and Slave Ambient were met with only the occasional cheer.  It was during these songs that The War On Drugs fell victim to the Crystal Ballroom Curse, as the overlapping of several effects pedals and similar-ranged instruments created a dense morass that made it hard to distinguish what was being played, even beyond the hazy effect intended by the material.  “These Arms Like Boulders” and “Come to the City” are gorgeous songs if you are familiar with them, but to the uninitiated can seem like mush, though the latter benefited from some nifty drumming that caught the eye of the crowd.  As many who have been to shows at the Crystal can attest, you need a top-notch sound man handling the mix or else everything can turn to crap.

Tuning up amid the haze; fog machine was working overtime

Tuning up amid the haze; fog machine was working overtime

Adam Granduciel kept the evening friendly with his crowd banter, talking about his love of Portland and how he was looking forward to seeing the Blazers play the next night at home (and he endeared himself to the crowd when some folks tried to correct him about the new name of the arena by saying, “It will always be the Rose Garden to me.”)  It didn’t seem at all like the band was weary from touring consistently for nine months, but instead that they had just hit their stride and were generally appreciative of getting to play another show.  The show still felt fresh, even if it was a similar script playing out each night.  As one would expect, “Red Eyes” had the crowd going nuts, but as it happened at the Wonder, “Eyes to the Wind” was the true highlight, with the fans giving that performance a hearty cheer to end the main set.  The encore left the casual fans a bit cold, but since they had heard what they came to hear, they couldn’t complain; meanwhile, I enjoyed going crazy at hearing “Baby Missiles” and its infectious beat once again.  And that was enough to help make the walk out the door seem twenty degrees warmer than the one coming in.

As for the opener, Summer Cannibals delivered a killer set of garage-influenced punk, a bit of a more harder-edged version of the Dum Dum Girls.  We had caught them earlier this year when they were the first openers for The Thermals down in Salem, but at least this time we were able to track them down and actually get their album.  We’ll see if it’s as good as their live show.

Over the Weekend (Dec. 1 Edition)

Various fun links to help you recover from the holiday weekend…

It’s that time of year again when all the different music publications begin their tally of the best albums of the year, and while we here at Rust Is Just Right hold out on releasing our list until the next year, that doesn’t mean we won’t share what others have deemed worthy.  Both MOJO and Paste have released their lists, and you’ll find that many of the albums we’ve praised this year have shown up on both countdowns.  If you feel we have been incomplete in our coverage so far, by all means take a look–we’ll be doing so as well to make sure we have covered all the bases.

The War On Drugs are high on both lists, and probably ours as well–we’ll see for certain next year.  Though their concert this Wednesday night might help nudge them up a bit.

Speaking of lists, The Village Voice was compelled to compile a list of the 60 Best Songs Ever Written About New York City.  I’m not sure what was the impetus or the reason why the cutoff was at 60, but frankly we’re just glad that Interpol’s “NYC” and Duke Ellington’s “Take the A Train” were fairly close to the top.

Not only is it List Time, it’s also the “Holiday Season.” While Holiday music is generally not the most thrilling genre out there, Los Campesinos! may be the band to avoid that pitfall.  You can hear for yourself, as Pitchfork is streaming their Christmas EP this week.

Noisey talks to two big 90’s bands who are still out there chugging along, posing the same questions to Everclear and Bush–though the interviews were clearly conducted separately, it’s interesting to see their answers side-by-side.  Also, it’s worth reading just to hear about Art Alexakis giving a midterm that day.

Elsewhere on Noisey, Killer Mike discusses his reaction to the grand jury decision in Ferguson in a heartfelt interview.  He’s a busy man these days, not only touring behind the incredible new Run The Jewels album, but also helping to write an Op-Ed on a Supreme Court case being heard today about rap lyrics and the First Amendment.  Billboard has some reporting on the case, including the fact that Eminem lyrics were quoted by Chief Justice Roberts.  Elonis v. United States is potentially a significant opinion for First Amendment caselaw, so it is worth following the arguments.

Catching Up On The Week (Sept. 26 Edition)

A few #longreads for your weekend as hipsterdom reaches its apex with a Pabst-sponsored music festival in Portland, Oregon…

One of the bands appearing at the Project Pabst festival this weekend is hometown heavy metal act Red Fang.  They may be local, but they also have a worldwide reach, as evidenced by a recent interview that an Indian metal publication conducted with guitarist Bryan Giles.

Portland's most identifiable landmark is a sign with its name.

Portland’s most identifiable landmark is a sign with its name.

Pitchfork has an extensive interview with Adam Granduciel of The War on Drugs, discussing the creation of his group’s brilliant new album Lost in the Dream and all the personal struggles he endured.  Be sure to check out also this performance that the band did for The Current, featuring a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue” (which is a perfect fit for the band).

Jeff Tweedy talks with The Quietus on the making of Sukierae with his son Spencer, discussing musical experimentation and lyrical processes among other topics.  And because I missed it when it first was published, I’m linking to another recent interview from The Quietus, this time with Karen O.

Joey Santiago talks about the legacy of the Pixies with Diffuser, and it’s always worth hearing from the legendary guitarist.

And because it’s not enough that people discuss the twentieth anniversary of Dookie, Consequence of Sound has a roundtable examining the impact of American Idiot ten years later.  I’m just glad someone stood up for Warning, which I feel is an underrated Green Day album.

And finally, some new music: after a week of dropping various hints, Thom Yorke announced the release of his second solo album, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, which is now available for purchase on BitTorrent.  It’ll definitely be making my weekend playlist.

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.

The War On Drugs, Live at the Wonder Ballroom

Regular readers of this site know how much we love the latest album from The War On Drugs, the absolutely superb Lost In The Dream.  It’s one thing for an album to sound great on record, but it is of course no guarantee that the songs will translate live very well.  Considering how much effort the band expended in constructing each song in the studio, there is always the risk that it may be impossible to replicate in a live setting.  The band was very conscious of this possibility (as the linked article shows), and spent weeks figuring out ways to ease the transition.  I can report that it’s clear from Sunday night’s show that the band has nailed the challenge.

It's intentional, and not my crappy photography

Hazy photo matches hazy music

The band gave the audience a clue from the get-go about how committed they were to being faithful to the album by reproducing the mechanical clicking whirr that marks the start of “Under the Pressure”.  After that quick intro, the band launched into the hard-charging opener, and the live energy made a great song even better.  I had predicted that “Baby Missiles” would be a likely show closer, so it threw me when they played it so early in the set, right after the opener.  It took a couple of verses before the sound engineer got the buoyant keyboard part at the right level in the mix, but the crowd didn’t mind this minor problem as they bounced around to the beat.

Songs from Slave Ambient blended in seamlessly with the new material, which was heavily featured throughout the set (the entirety of Lost In The Dream but the instrumental “The Haunting Idle” was played).  Frontman Adam Granduciel also was a fun and engaging presence throughout, and kept it light with the audience even when minor difficulties like a busted string after a particularly raucous solo from “An Ocean In Between The Waves” dulled some of the momentum.  He endeared himself to the crowd by giving a shout-out to The Doug Fir and by informing us that he wishes that everyday was Saturday, except when he was younger the wish was for Thursday, because that was when Seinfeld was on (he then explained he now prefers Saturday again because Seinfeld is on every day (AS IT SHOULD BE)).

The band was in top form, improving on even some of their best songs.  “Eyes To The Wind”, a fantastic mid-tempo folk-rocker, had an added coda that had the entire group locked in a groove as Adam piled on some gorgeous solos above the mix.  “Burning” really rips on the record, but with the added energy of the crowd they’re able to kick it up another notch.

I attempt computer tricks to overcome my crappy photography

Jim James joins the band on stage

As we posted in our roundup yesterday, the band had a special guest for their encore, as Jim James joined the band on a cover of John Lennon’s “Mind Games”.  There had been a couple of hints that we would witness something special, but I’ll admit that when I first saw a roadie that looked like the frontman of The Decemberists setting up an extra microphone, my first thought was “Did Colin Meloy gain some weight and grow a beard?”  I think pseudo-Colin would have been a decent choice, but Jim James was definitely an upgrade.  After the raucous cover, the band finished their encore with some of the more downbeat numbers, a perfect end as Sunday night gradually turned into another Monday morning.

Over the Weekend (Mar. 31 Edition)

It looks like a pretty good Monday–a lot of new music, videos, and other fun stuff to kick off your week.

We mentioned this on Friday, and today our suspicions were confirmed: The Antlers are about to release a new album!  Familiars will be released state-side on June 17, so mark your calendars now (or just save the hassle and pre-order).  Meanwhile, watch the music video the band released for the lead single, “Palace”–it’s as delicately gorgeous as you would expect, and the band has already done the courtesy of providing the lyrics for you on their Tumblr.

Stereogum has the premiere of the single from former member of The Walkmen Peter Matthew Bauer, the festive “Latin American Ficciones”.  It definitely evokes the spirit of his former band, especially in the insistent trebly guitar, with a nice spare percussion backing track.  This follows on the heels of the recent new music we’ve heard from other former members Walter Martin and Hamilton Leithauser.  It’s unlikely that any of the projects will reach the heights of the best work of The Walkmen, but all of the songs that have been released are rather promising, so fingers crossed.

Everyone should be familiar with Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” right now, but you may not know the “science” behind the hit.  Owen Pallett takes a look at the underlying music theory that makes the song work so well.  He takes a couple of liberties to make it easier to understand for beginners, but it’s a solid look at the underpinnings of the tune.

This actually appeared on my Facebook feed on Friday, but I’m linking to it now because we need more ways to kill time at the beginning of the week.  NPR has a quick quiz of “Name That Drum Fill”, and I think most people should do pretty well.

And finally, last night I had the great pleasure to see album-of-the-year frontrunners The War On Drugs in person at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland.  It was a blistering set, and the new songs really kick live.  We may run a quick review of the show in the next couple of days, but I’m going to pass along a video from one of the highlights of the show: it was when Jim James of My Morning Jacket showed up for the encore to sing a cover of John Lennon’s “Mind Games” with the band.