Shawn’s Favorite Albums of 2016

david-bowieWhat a year, eh? While 2016 was easily the most devastating year I’ve seen in my 40 on this planet. To kick things off David Bowie died before the damn News Years clock had hardly even stopped ringing. Follow that with Prince, Richard Lyons, Sharon Jones, Phife, Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell, Merle Haggard and just before the closing bell, George Michael. That’s not even all of them, but it’s more than enough to illustrate that the Universe had A LOT to make up for. Ying and Yang, right? You cut down a tree, you plant one in return. Well, I don’t know if the scales balanced, but I certainly found a ton of great new music this year. A heaping helping of it it is published by the wonderful Felte Records, so you may want to bookmark their website and keep an eye on them. Also, my two main gatekeepers/curators at this point are Heaven is an Incubator and Part Time Punks, two more great tools for finding amazing new sounds to make your ears happy.

The Joup Friday Album: Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes

 

violentfemmes-largeThe year is finally over. We made it. I can’t say the same for a good chunk of our heroes, but we’re here, and we must sort out a world without Princes, Princesses, and a thin, white Duke. Wonka is dead, and one of the Oompa Loompas are taking charge.

We’ve said goodbye to icons, begrudgingly acknowledged the elephant in the room, and watched countless instances of human suffering unfold around the world.  That doesn’t even consider the personal struggles any of us have faced. For my partner and myself, it has been a doozy.

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For The Love Of Comics

saw-viper-coverI was a HUGE fan of Larry Hama’s GIJOE comic, published throughout the 80s by Marvel. The title actually continued on into the early 90s as well, but by then it was well past its prime. I remember I checked out at some point when Claremont’s X-Books overtook Joe in the battle for my allowance and my attention span, somewhere around issue #119 or so. But even then, in 1991 at 15 years old I had a serious case of fan inertia with the book. Conceptually I still loved GIJOE, not the toy but some of the bigger ideas Mr. Hama floated through the book. Many of those ideas were personified by the Ninja characters and arcs of the book, but also things like the town of Springfield – state unknown – where Cobra had an entire American small town under its influence. Or strange serendipity that coated characters like Cobra Commander, his son Billy and various other peripheral characters, many of whom suffered some pretty messed up fates, not in a gross or graphic way, but in a way that made me psychologically wonder about the world I lived in. A great example of that was the Commander himself, who went through several diametric changes over the course of the book, and may have been my first encounter with a non-black and white bad guy in a comic, even if he eventually did kind of get reset into a very black and white caricature. But despite all this, I’d be lying if I didn’t say the main impetus for my aforementioned checking out was the infamous issue issue #109, where, after what I’d imagine were endless complaints over the years of Joe members surviving situations simply because the editorial bullpen seemed hesitant to kill off any characters with corresponding action figure equity, the book suddenly introduced a new character that kills a large dose of JOEs in one fell swoop. And wouldn’t you know it, all older, out-dated and admittedly kind of ‘blah’ characters to begin with. The way I’ve always looked at it in hindsight is Hama being pushed and pulled between killing and not killing, finally receiving a editorial edict to kill some and then just basically putting up his middle finger and saying ‘fine, you want me to kill a bunch of ‘unimportant characters?  Fuck you, there it is” way.

The Joup Friday Album – Christmas Edition

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A World Lit Only by Yule Time Fire

I’d imagine it was with a smiling sense of irony that Amy tagged me for this christmas edition of The Joup Friday Album. It certainly was with that same sense of gleeful irony that I accepted the challenge. You see, although I am a devilish manifestation of the evil one, well, I can’t say that I do not, in some way, fall in for the cheer and good times of the holiday season. The bells, garland, trees and lights; buttered rum, santa slippers and stockings hung by the chimney with care. We never had that where I’m from, and although I remained steadfastly against it for the first few decades I spent on this Earthly plane, well, it won me over.

5 Things that Made 2016 a Little Less Shitty

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Bettman/CORBIS

Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way: 2016 really fucking sucked.  A bunch of really cool people died.  A surly, orange clown somehow managed to con his way into the most powerful position on Earth.  Rampant nationalism seems to be sweeping the globe.  And we may be looking down the barrel of so many loaded guns (climate change, Supreme Court nominations, the gutting of health care, diplomatic relations with China, Turkey, Russia, The Philippines, etc.), that it’s enough to induce an all encompassing panic attack…the kind that last’s a lifetime.

People are scared.  I’m scared.  And we should be.

Endless Loop 100: Estranged

guns-n-rosesHave you ever had one of those songs that gets stuck in your head for days…weeks…years? Sure you have. These are the songs that always make the cut. The songs on repeat. We all have them. I have a ton. Welcome back to Endless Loop.

“Estranged” by Guns ‘N Roses

And so we’ve reached the 100th entry of this rambling, semi-coherent column. What better way to celebrate that milestone and close out the year than a nod to one of the most bloated, overwrought, and ostentatious songs of the 20th century that I also happen to have an unbridled and unwavering adoration for. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the epic majesty that is “Estranged” by Guns ‘N Roses.

2016: A Solipsistic Musical Review

I dispensed with the terror that accompanied force-feeding myself popular music news and reviews shortly after I started writing about music in 2011 (in a brief, quasi-professional capacity anyway), both activities seemed from the-off to dissipate in enjoyment the more they were required of me, and the further I got from ‘my path’.  I felt in my twenties, as my tastes diversified that my discovery of new music was effortless; a self-sustaining passion driven not by trend-setting publications, but word of mouth and meticulous cross referencing of liner notes, or the research and natural curiosity that was born out of adoration. As I’ve gotten older and responsibilities have overtaken the free time I had to dedicate myself so absolutely in this pursuit, progress as been slow but sure; in this strolling I came to accept that I couldn’t keep abreast of everything new, and theorised – informed by the deluge of new music – that there was already in existence more great music than I likely have hours left in my body, and I should just drift with the current. My ‘path’ is now forged by the happenstance of hearing something on independent internet radio stations (chief among them the indefatigable Freeform Station of the Nation: WFMU), from past purchases that I never gave a fair crack back in the day, or my many expeditions round local charity shops where I fill holes in my collection or take chances on interesting looking discs. Here are ten choice selections from the discoveries I made this past year.

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