Swinging on the velvet ropes
The last time we had this talk I revealed that I was ready to quit Punknews: that after 16 or 17 years as a contributor I felt adrift and disconnected. In 2017 I solved that problem by launching Some Party, a weekly newsletter sharing the latest in independent Canadian rock'n'roll. That little publication, with its built-in restraints (one post a week, every Sunday, and no social media other than my own), has allowed me to find some balance and focus again. It's something I own, writ large, and as I round my mid-thirties that feels right. It operates like a zine, not something that's trying to fight for space with the establishment music press. It's also, for the first time in years, made contributions here at Punknews feel healthy as well. The partnership between these sister publications is something I'm hoping to grow in 2019.
If you haven't yet subscribed, go check it out. Some Party features punk, garage, psych, and otherwise uncategorizable indie rock, drawing lines from proto to post and every weird diversion along the way. I'll return from my holiday break in January, then it'll be sent out every Sunday from then on.
Energized by the newsletter, and in many cases through doors opened by it, I had a wonderful year in music. I attended what turned out to be the final Ottawa Explosion Weekend. I made the first of hopefully many trips out east for SappyFest. I saw the triumphant first show on the Dose Your Dreams tour and the thundering finale of the Master Volume tour. I attended killer club shows from Simply Saucer, New Swears, Tough Age, Ancient Shapes, DBoy, Freak Heat Waves, Man Made Hill, Jennifer Castle, Lido Pimienta, FRIGS, the Constantines, and many more. I was there for the Polaris Music Prize gala to witness Jeremy Dutcher's well-deserved win. I saw Daniel Romano write and record a song on a rooftop. I took my daughter to see Weaves, her first rock show.
The most surreal moment may have been at Beau's Oktoberfest. I arrived in Vankleek Hill in the midst of a tornado warning and found my way to the punk-focused Black Forest stage just before the storm hit. Beneath a pavilion, skaters rode a half-pipe adorned Punknews logos. Flying proudly overhead was a Some Party banner, it was maybe the first time I've seen my humble little mark out there in the physical world. It hung in the autumn wind all weekend while the adjacent stage saw great performances from the Flatliners, Cancer Bats, the Stand GT, Mental Fix, Audio Visceral, and so many others.
Don't tell anyone, but it was no bigger or smaller than the Vice banner.
I don't say that, or share any of these little accomplishments, to gloat, but to acknowledge how motivating and encouraging any recognition can be when you're an independent music writer operating entirely in the unpaid realm (so thank you for that, Beau's). There've been dark times when Punknews has felt like a thankless slog that invites nothing but ire, but this year wasn't among them. If you've been informed or entertained by the daily efforts of the volunteer writers or reviewers here, make sure you reach out and say thanks. It'll mean a lot.
10 Cool EPs from 2018
10. Rotten Column: Are We Not Bags
Self-ReleasedTough Age is one of my favourite bands, and I somehow managed to see them four or five times last year. Their alter-ego Rotten Column comes off like their unchecked id, with Penny Clark taking over lead vocals and performing these wild, messy punk songs just for kicks. Clark's backed here by her Tough Age bandmates Jarrett Samson and Jesse Locke, along with Stephan NoHaus and Emma Healey. Are We Not Bags and the subsequent 1-800-R-O-T-T-E-N-C-O-L-U-M-N EP are scrappy, live-recorded, super low-fi affairs. There's quite intentionally a lack of anything close to polish here, and my enjoyment of this is likely very tied tightly to my Tough Age fandom, so your mileage may vary. That said, this is the sound of a bunch of friends making silly music together in some basement, and that's good for the soul.
9. Steven Lambke / Construction & Destruction: Revolution C
Out Of Sound RecordsThese three songs find the eclectic Nova Scotian duo Construction & Destruction collaborating in the studio with Steven Lambke of the Constantines. The tape serves as an intimate, introspective endcap to a year in which Lambke's professional endeavours (as the curator of Sappyfest) had an outsized impact on my life. Getting out to Sackville for the first time was a critical milestone for me. It was both a financial and mental commitment to the work I've been doing with Some Party and the art I've been trying to support. To see C&D (who regularly perform at Sappy, most recently this year as part of the excellent electronic act Delta Blip) and Steve (who looms large in my cannon by way of the Cons) sneak this in before the year-end feels very personally satisfying.
8. Blessed / Tunic: split 7"
Buzz RecordsThis two-song split features the lush Abbotsford, BC post-punk act Blessed and Winnipeg noise-punk outfit Tunic. Released to coincide with their co-headlining tour, this 7" had far more legs (with me) than as a mere promotional vehicle. Blessed's first new music since their critically lauded 2017 EP II, "Sound" is a sprawling 7-minute track that shows off a bit of a Talking Heads vibe. By contrast Tunic's searing "Teeth Showing" clocks in at just over two frantic minutes with an acidity that could peel paint. Not only does the contrast work well, but both songs are exemplary, top-of-their-game cuts which show each group at their absolute best.
7. Paul Jacobs: Story About Anything
Self-ReleasedI love this project, not only because the music's so great but because of the packaging. This EP was made available on a limited run of 100 cassettes, each with a hand-drawn cover done in Jacobs' instantly recognizable cartoon style. Each cassette also serves as a single frame in a flip-book animation, so every tape contains one original slice of that. You just can't find that type of esoteric DIY art flourishing in any other medium. Jacobs continues to refine his wall of sound into something deeply engaging by using elements of blown out fuzz as the building blocks for oddly satisfying pop songs.
6. Chain Whip: Chain Whip
Neon Taste RecordsVancouver's finest come together to play tough, 80s-style hardcore. The band's clearly self-aware of how ridiculous all this posturing can sound, but they lean right into it without falling into parody. The resulting EP is so damn fun and propulsive you'll have their anthems forever rattling in your head. This is just a full-throated embrace of punk rock as catharsis, intellectualizing nothing and proud of it. The quartet features Josh Nickel of Fashionism on vocals with Joel Butler of Nervous Talk/Corner Boys on guitar, Brett Thompson of Stress Eating on bass, and Patrick Bertrand of Corner Boys on drums.
5. New Vogue: New Vogue
Sound Salvation MusicSure, there's a cool new PRIORS record out from the same personnel, but this here is the real shit. Sonic Avenues members Chance Hutchison and Max Desharnais take their band's distinctive sound on a weird DEVO-fueled detour. While PRIORS are unrelenting and single-minded in their blazing garage punk, New Vogue takes the time to back off the rocket fuel and get strange. This tape finds the duo sounding like twitchy new wave cyborgs one minute and drugged-out psych maniacs the next. Of all the bands in this family tree, New Vogue is my favourite.
4. Booji Boys: Unknown Pleathers
Sewercide RecordsBooji Boys remain the best punk band in Canada. In between last year's list and this one they released a new full length, but as that came out in the last week of the year I'm stubbornly considering it a 2017 release for the purposes of this article. Not all's lost though, as the band's recent EP Unknown Pleathers packs enough hooky, fuzzed out, barely-held-together bangers to make up for it. You still can't hear whatever the hell Alex Mitchell's singing about, but Booji Boys as a whole sound so consistently exhilarating that's never felt like a problem to me.
3. WLMRT: Lube 2
Pleasence RecordsWLMRT is a band I write about a lot on Some Party, and I'd hold them up them as perhaps one of the most conceptually punk acts to have emerged from Toronto's underground in a good while. The group's sound has always been frenetic, with sardonic stream-of-consciousness lyrics delivered over frenzied playing, but on Lube 2 they coalesce as something greater. To merely throw the "noise" label on them seems reductive, as this EP is almost surprisingly engaging, in spite of the chaos. Songs like "Roger's Movie Idea" or "C.U.T.V." are indeed manic and breathless (and often quite silly), but WLMRT feels young, vital, and strangely relevant in a way few bands do.
2. Wares: Silhouette
Self-ReleasedCassia J. Hardy's Wares released a sleeper hit of an LP in 2016, but the tracks on this single are a cut above. I'd offer up "X Ray" and "Rice Paper Dress" as two of the year's most beautiful songs. Wares is a band that's a little hard to peg, from a genre perspective, but the Edmonton act has undeniable charisma and sense of intelligent wordplay that's shared by a select handful of literate Canadian punk-adjacent acts, the Weakerthans and the Burning Hell among them. If they keep producing material of this calibre, there's no reason the couldn't take their place in that pantheon.
1. Alienation: Bitter Reality
Warthog Speak RecordsI'm out of my depth with Bitter Reality, but I can't stop listening to it. This is impossibly fast, thrashing hardcore noise of a type that's several layers of the genre onion away from what's familiar to me. It's rare that something in the punk sphere feels dangerous and unfamiliar anymore, but this recaptures that feeling. While band projects chaos they've built their racket atop some wonderfully hooky songwriting that reveals itself on repeat listens. Alienation has a few familiar faces in their roster, featuring guitarists Steve Earle and Cody Googoo of Haligonian punks the Booji Boys and former Career Suicide member Dave Brown. They're backing vocalist Dylan Jewers, who manages an otherworldly, half-spoken sneer across Bitter Reality's 12-minute runtime. When these 11 songs crash to a stop, and you're left spinning and breathless, more intrigued than when you started.
20 Cool LPs from 2018
20. PRIORS: New Pleasure
Slovenly RecordingsHere come the cyborgs: New Pleasure presents an unstoppable wall of blistering garage fuzz from members of Sonic Avenues, the Steve Adamyk Band, and The Famines. Chance Hutchison's vocals are double-tracked and delayed and otherwise mutated through some bastard war machine, leaving him sounding like a buzzing, haywire robot for the brunt of the record. Outside of a brief instrumental into to each side of the record, PRIORS never relents. New Pleasure is just a blitzkrieg of an LP.
19. Peach Kelli Pop: Gentle Leader
Mint RecordsThere've been so many cool pop-punk records this year, from Jock Tears' oft-hilarious debut to the latest sugar-rush EP from BBQT. Peach Kelli Pop's latest album had the most legs with me, particularly by the critical metric "songs my 6-year-old tries to sing along with from her carseat." Peach Kelli principal Allie Hanlon was the drummer of Ottawa's legendary garage-punks the White Wires, and now bases her band out of LA. That setting seems appropriate, as Gentle Leader always feels like sunshine, even when it's bittersweet.
18. Golden Drag: Pink Sky
Buzz RecordsThere's a trajectory to the career of noise-punk act Greys that reasonably leads to Golden Drag, the solo side-project from frontman Shehzaad Jiwani. Each successive Greys full-length has found them slotting in more nuance. That cumulated in a supplemental release a few years back that saw the band crafting weird soundscapes from the studio scraps from their Outer Heaven sessions. It was relaxed and adventurous, counter-programming Greys' catalogue of tightly wound angst. Since then Jiwani's been found largely behind the boards, producing many cool indie-pop records from the Toronto indie rock world. His songwriting maturity and confidence as an engineer dovetails into Golden Drag, an astoundingly enjoyable collection of songs where world-weary lyrics are carried along by a satisfying mix of electronic instrumentation and guitar rock. You could say it’s all very chill, but it's hardly ephemeral: there a line in “Caught Leaking Light” hits me in the gut every time I hear it.
17. Sore Points: Sore Points
Deranged RecordsVancouver trio Sore Points are awash in 70s punk influences, with a strong Ramones core (of course) mixed with a hearty dose of attitude-driven early 80s Californian hardcore. While they're hardly pushing the most original sound on the block, there's no shame in rocking an Adolescents vibe over classic buzzsaws, particularly when its done so well. The closest sonic contemporary for Sore Points might be the mighty Night Birds, and that's great company to be in. We're 40 odd years out from this sound, but it's evergreen.
16. Luge: Tall Is Just a Feeling
Self-ReleasedOn paper Tall Is Just a Feeling features all the requisite parts of a rock band, but everything's gloriously askew. Living up to the no wave label, Luge deconstructs punk and from the scraps assembles a fascinating mess of angular guitar freakouts, commandingly funky rhythms, and Kaiva Gotham’s alternatively yelping, spoken, and otherwise unconventional vocals. One could rightfully accuse Luge of being weird for the sake of weird, if they weren't so infectious. The real genius of this record is how much pop ends up coming out of the blender in the end.
15. Young Guv: 2 Sad 2 Funk
Night SchoolRipe 4 Luv got by on AM radio pop charm, exposing the delicate, sweet side of Ben Cook's songwriting. 2 Sad 2 Funk is a decidedly different beast, demanding attention through purposefully overwrought production, with vocal effects maxed to match the excesses of these songs. This is the same maximalism Fucked Up and No Warning are labelled with, just applied to a different genre. Cook intersperses his sappy odes with a collage of vintage Toronto-area radio ads, some seemingly too ridiculous to be real, and the results are surreal. The overall effect feels like culture jamming, like a funhouse mirror version of the 90s retro-futurism that the vaporwave genre fetishizes, and it's a trip.
14. Dilly Dally: Heaven
Dine Alone RecordsI devoured Dilly Dally's early singles, and their debut album Sore was my top record of 2015. Katie Monks presented this band as this tortured enigma of moody, grimy grunge songs driven by sneering punk rock angst. The band dropped out of sight between then and now, nearly tearing themselves out from exhaustion on the road and other issues. That there would even be a follow up was uncertain, and this one required a good deal of healing before it happened. If Sore was a seedy Saturday night, Heaven is the Sunday morning recovery. There's a reassuring clarity here that's very affecting as if Monks has pulled her head from the chaos to take stock. Rather than find disaster in her wake, there's a sense of peace.
13. S.H.I.T.: What Do You Stand For?
Iron Lung / La Vida Es Un Mus DiscosSixteen minutes of nasty hardcore from the consummate Toronto hardcore act. S.H.I.T. will never command popular attention, but every band that breaks from the Toronto underground can attest to how unimpeachable this group's been. What Do You Stand For? is the band's starkest release, with the cloud of feedback that cloaked their prior EPs dialled back to reveal something more immediate. This is back-against-the-wall hardcore, frantic and unrelenting. There's no hint of crowd-service mosh stuff, nor any intrusion of some off-genre flourish. S.H.I.T. cuts as close to the bone as possible.
12. Feel Alright: In Bad Faith
Pleasence RecordsI had a stressful start to the year, with five or six straight months of crunch time on a project that was make-or-break at the day job, and it kept me pretty isolated from my life in music. Throughout that period, I listened to Feel Alright's understated single "Cool Water" like a mantra, awkwardly belting out the chorus from behind office headphones more than I'd probably like to admit. "Don't you say that we're losing touch." The brainchild of Calgary audio/visual artist Craig Fahner, Feel Alright's lived several lives over the years from its origins as a bedroom recording project. In Bad Faith, as a whole, is a decidedly more upbeat 90s-styled power pop record than that single lets on, but the songwriting throughout is top notch, and there's no shortage of earworms within.
11. Nap Eyes: I'm Bad Now
You've Changed RecordsForgive my choice of words, but I slept on Nap Eyes up until this year. The band's chilled-out, earnest indie rock, built around Nigel Chapman's deadpan vocals, seemed built for me to ignore. There was something, though, about the single "Every Time the Feeling" that not only hooked me but had me rush out and mail order the band's entire back catalogue. Chapman writes in the tradition of extremely literate Canadian lyricists like John K. Samson and Mathias Kom. Behind his indifferent drone, the band finds space to get playful, and there are instrumental interplays with the vocals on this record that delight me every time. Nap Eyes are a band that's, by-design, unobtrusive, and as such makes no effort to force you to get onboard. Once you do though, they're astonishingly difficult to shake.
10. Tommy and the Commies: Here Come...
Slovenly RecordingsA short record, and appropriately so, as Tommy and the Commies trades almost exclusively in the whip-fast sound of early Buzzcocks, with shades of the Undertones and Adverts thrown in for good measure. This trio finds titular Tommy backed by Jeff Houle (the mastermind behind the weirdo garage project Strange Attractor) and his brother Mitch. The Houles were 2/3s of the P.Trash power-pop legends Statues, and in a year where we lost both P.Trash label head Peter Eichhorn and Buzzcocks frontman Pete Shelley, Tommy and the Commies' debut stands testament to the quality and endurance of the sounds both men championed in their lifetime.
9. FRIGS: Basic Behaviour
Arts & CraftsThe result of 16 months of work, FRIGS' carefully considered every aspect of their debut, and the songs reflect that care. Bria Salmena's vocal performance is astonishing and can swing from a haunting drone to a scream of defiance without a moment's notice. Like many records that play with silence, Basic Behavior isn't well suited for casual listening. From my distracted office desk, where I, unfortunately, do the brunt of my listening, Basic Behavior never grabbed me. It took an arresting live performance to bring me back around, and alone with this record on my turntable the seething underlying tension of these songs finally clicked.
8. Hot Snakes: Jericho Sirens
Sub PopFourteen years later, Rick Froberg and John Reis’ Hot Snakes thunder ahead as if no time had passed. Everything that worked so well from the group's untouchable first run remains, which isn't always the case when a band leaves a decade hole in their catalogue. There's something gloriously uncomplicated about Hot Snakes formula, which is fast and mean, dripping with attitude and beholden to no trend. There's no sonic queue that the band is at all reflective of their time away, nor do they acknowledge the ripples of influence they left in their wake (every band I love seems to have outed themselves as die-hard Hot Snakes fan of late). In any case, Hot Snakes' sound has always been too urgent, too stubborn and hell-bent, to waste time navel-gazing. Just a buzzing wasp nest of a band.
7. Daniel Romano: Finally Free
You've Changed RecordsYou've Changed proudly claims that Finally Free is the eighth Daniel Romano LP released in the last eight years, but I'm not too sure about their math. To get down that total you need to omit two other full-lengths of material released this very year, not to mention a pair of albums from his punk side-gig Ancient Shapes. Eight isn't giving Daniel Romano enough credit, as the singer-songwriter's created so prolifically that even his roots in Attack In Black seem like a footnote at this point. Finally Free, appropriate to its title, is an album that Romano wrote, recorded, performed, engineered, and mixed entirely on his own. Given how much Danny's endeavoured to brand himself as a classicly oblique pre-Internet artiste, wrapped in the mystique of inscrutable left turns, it's fitting to see him take sole control of his studio output. Putting aside the exuberant 70s pop of Modern Pressure and Mosey, here Romano explores agnostic spiritualism though cleverly constructed, esoteric folk songs: Dylan as Walt Whitman. True to form, Danny's restless nature will in short order take him in some entirely different direction, but Finally Free marks a fascinating waypoint in one of the most rewarding careers to follow in music.
6. Paul Jacobs: Easy
Stolen Body RecordsI've got a thing for idiosyncratic garage rock weirdos, and Paul Jacobs churns out music like a man possessed. Jacobs may have moved far from his life as a one-man-band, but he still produces music with that level of, often releasing several distinct collections in a given year. 2018 was no exception. Easy is the full-length follow-up to 2016's Pictures, Movies & Apartments LP, which saw Jacobs's often impenetrable noise-rock blossom into this lushly orchestrated, awesomely hooky soundscape. Vocally Jacobs often comes off a bit like the druggy, self-aware second coming of Iggy Pop, and that's fine with me. Easy has rewarded repeat listens, with repeating vocal and musical themes and enough sonic density to unpack in the long run. That Jacobs profile isn't higher at this point is something of a mystery to me.
5. U.S. Girls: In a Poem Unlimited
Telephone ExplosionCan I admit that I find In a Poem Unlimited slightly intimidating? It's not that I feel personally threatened by Meg Remy's razor-sharp social and political commentary (I'd like to hope we're on the same page), but there's such a sense of burning relevancy here that I don't want to get in her way. I don't want to do U.S. Girls the disservice of poorly recontextualizing something that's so strikingly capable. Backed by The Cosmic Range, Toronto's psych-jazz wizards, Remy crafts what I can best peg as urgent protest-funk, an album full of deep grooves and lush instrumentals that take Remy's frustrations to war on the dancefloor. This is a record people will be unpacking for years to come, and it's a beautiful and complex expression of indignation through pop.
4. Jennifer Castle: Angels of Death
Idée Fixe RecordsIt's seldom these days that you witness an online wave of pure positivity, particularly regarding music. Of course, we're quite used to snap communal reactions to whatever political aberration is next down the pipe, but it feels rare to see everyone in your bubble simultaneously reacting to a piece of art (and euphorically so). I think I may have just cultivated the right group of people to follow, but the arrival of Jennifer Castle's slow-burning "Crying Shame" single was seismic. Wherever I looked, excitement over her forthcoming Angels of Death record was the common denominator in every conversation, and spoken about with a kind of hushed reverence you rarely see these days. Castle's songwriting feels timeless, synthesizing country and gospel influences so naturally and free of nostalgia that you could believe this record was from some long lost contemporary to Carole King. This feels like an album I'll be revisiting fondly for decades.
3. The Dirty Nil: Master Volume
Dine Alone RecordsHigher Power arrived after the Dirty Nil had gigged independently across Ontario for more than half a decade on the strength of a prolific string of 7" singles, EPs, and other short-form releases. A proper full-length, promoted traditionally and issued with the full support of a label, felt like uncharted territory at the time. In my review, I was incredulous that this band was even putting out full-lengths. The very act felt alien to the Nil I knew from dozens of sweaty bar shows. We're well into in the career cycle now (shit, the Dirty Nil have opened for The freakin' Who), but there was new uncertainty this time around: Higher Power would be the band's first record without Dave Nardi. Don't get me wrong, I'm cool with Ross Miller, and he's been a fixture of the Niagara music scene for longer than I was ever a part of it, but Dave's one of my favourite performers and any band's rolling the dice when swapping out a third of their personnel. My fears were, thankfully, unfounded, as Master Volume found the band crafting a big, universally acclaimed power-pop record in an era when so few of those seem to make an impact. Years ago, back before I first saw them live at some bar stage in St. Catharines, the promoter pulled me aside and claimed the Dirty Nil would be the biggest band in the world. I brushed it off as superlative at the time, or at best some home-team pride, but I sure as hell believe it now.
2. Hubert Lenoir: Darlène
Simone RecordsI can recognize (at least) three distinct takes on Hubert Lenoir, and I can only speak to two of them. As an album, Darlène is a rewarding set of thematically-linked pop songs, delivered as revival glam rock with early 70 Bowie flourishes (with some chanson québécoise, bien sûr). From this standpoint Darlène's wonderfully re-listenable, but restrained. It's conventional in the sense that Lenoir the provocateur isn't quite evident from his studio work. That's the second aspect, particularly from an English standpoint: Lenoir broke this album beyond Quebec's borders with a confrontational flare that's rare. The varied music scenes of Quebec are both wide and deep, but they're also insular. Many bands' entire careers can operate on an axis between the province and Europe, with nary a sliver of recognition in the rest of the country. Darlène's quality earned it notice, but Lenoir's middle-finger-to-everything live persona made it stick. That was the Lenoir on stage at the Polaris Prize gala this year, sneering through an accelerated version of "Fille de Personne" in a jacket covered in Crass and Misifts patches before a giant fleur-de-lis redrawn as an ejaculating penis. The insular nature of Quebec culture makes the third aspect of this record unknowable to me, as the reputation Lenoir's building within that culture doesn't translate to my sphere. Are Francophone music fans sick of his persona? Are they embracing his tongue-in-cheek live chaos? Is his celebrity obnoxiously outshining his art? That's not a perspective I'm able to take. That aspect aside, few records have provided me with as much entertainment this year.
1. Fucked Up: Dose Your Dreams
Arts & CraftsI’ve read a few reviewers disappointed that Fucked Up didn’t take the opposite path with Dose Your Dreams, making a harder and faster record as the course correction from the steady, workmanlike Glass Boys. I suspect that album would have been just fine, in that these players are certainly capable of creating it, but it would have left a significant number of tools on the bench. That'd be a shame, and I'm happy to leave straight-ahead hardcore to the bands that exclusively trade in it. Fucked Up can be something else, they've proven that. If you ask me Dose Your Dreams is the kind of record they absolutely should be making. This album doesn’t treat the band's adventurism as some flourish, it treats it as the hub of the wheel. Songs like "Normal People" and the title track are masterful. They're achievements not in hardcore, not in punk, but on this wild path Fucked Up's cut for themselves. That's the path I want to keep exploring, expectations of the genre be damned. Here the band fully embraces electronic elements, aspects of industrial and shoegaze, and even dares question the role of iconic frontman Damian Abraham. Yet for all the experimentation Dose Your Dreams is never pretentious. Hell, it's remarkably accessible at times. The pop-punk bones of "Raise Your Voice Joyce" and "I Don't Wanna Live In This World Anymore" are rousing and catchy and just beg for another spin (my 6-year-old tries to sing along with the former). From a meta perspective, Dose feels like a perfect summation of the year I've had in music. Ryan Tong from S.H.I.T. shows up on "Mechanical Bull." Jennifer Castle duets with J. Mascis on "Came Down Wrong." You could write a short book on the personnel involved and their own fascinating connections to this band (to say nothing of the not-so-secret side projects that populate the universe built around this record).
I get that the hardcore blogger class is going to sneer at all this excess, and I've got the distinct impression that the indie rock trendsetters who championed earlier records like David Comes to Life have since moved on, but that’s none of my concern. True to its cover art, this record's a trip, and it's the pinnacle of this band's output.