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Conan Neutron’s Top Records of 2018

Conan Neutron’s top records of 2018:
1. Tropical Fuck Storm – a Laughing Death in Meatspace (TFS Band)
2. Lung – All the Kings Horses 
3. sewingneedle – User Error
4. Screaming Females– All at Once 
5. Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens
6. Body Futures– Maybe It’s Just the Weather 
7. Poster Children – Grand Bargain
8. Christian Fitness – Nuance the Musical 
9. Haunted Heads – Everything We Agreed About 
10. TONGUE PARTY – Looking for a Painful Death

Honorable Mentions: 
BLAHA– Survival Climb
The God Eaters – Fading Horizons
Gouge Away – Burnt Sugar
WORK – Strictly Cruis’n
Mister Dude – Party Tape
The Messthetics – s/t
Dale Crover – Fickle Finger of Fate
(the) Melvins – Pinkus Abortion Technician 
Lung – Bottom of the Barrel 
The Hand – When All Of The Shit Hits All Of The Fans (The Hand Vol. 3 & 4)

I listened to a LOT of records over the year, but these were the ones that that I listened to the most. And at some point, you have to just let the train leave the station.
I’ll put the links below

I’m sure I missed a few, that’s fine. The point is: there’s a ton of amazing music out there. Go listen to it! And I guess, like the show’s FB page if you support this kind of deep dive. 
Note: this is slightly different from the best of 2018 show, which was a team effort and will be a different post

1. Tropical Fuck Storm – A Laughing Death in Meat Space
Absolutely powerful stuff. Great songs with incredible left turns. Moody, claustrophobic and staggeringly self aware, like a sentient computer raised on Bill Hicks comedy specials, Howard Zinn, Black MIrror and Twin Peaks. I heard this blind, knowing nothing of any other or previous bands and loved it. Maybe you will too? It’s a hell of a ride. Possible record of the year.
RIYL: the pAperchAse, Dead Rider, Leonard Cohen, the Knife

2. Lung – All the King’s Horses
LUNG are back with a new album. You’ll never believe that a band with just Cello, vocals and drums can sound so full. Propulsive, Heavy, tuneful and thoughtful. Incredible lyrics, powerful arrangements and songs that stick with you for long after you stop listening. 

The only problem is they have a very unique sound, which isn’t always rewarded. I need you to trust me when I say that this is WELL worth your time and one of the best records of 2018. 

Bonus: a timely David Bowie cover.

3. sewingneedle – user error
Remarkably acrobatic musicianship paired with gorgeous harmonies. Musically, sewingneedle can hold their own with the fiercest noise rock band, yet there is melody and harmony. What madness is this? Great songs, great repeated listenability. 

RIYL: jawbox, slint, Polvo, Chavez, Shudder to Think, Shiner.
https://sewingneedle.bandcamp.com/album/user-error

4. Screaming FemalesAll At Once
Probably the best Screaming Females record yet… totally rips. A consistently great and hard working live band delivers their go-to record on record, what. 7? Not counting the live one. Incredible. These’s an adventure rock song on here and a song that legit sounds like it could be played as a prom. (I mean that as a compliment.)
As an aside, this is one of the records on my list that was probably most widely heard, yet wasn’t on that many lists. That’s really dumb. It’s great!
RIYL: Dinosaur Jr. Pixies, Silkworm
https://screamingfemales.bandcamp.com/album/all-at-once

5. Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens
Hello! Do you live under a rock? Yes? Ok! This is the long awaited 4th record by the formerly dead, now living rock quartet HOT SNAKES. It’s fueled by the riffs of John Reis and the vocals of Rick Froberg. A certain magic happens with these two powerhouses together. The music is an inheritor of bands like the Wipers and Crime, while bringing some of the academic polyrhythms/punk-prog of Drive Like Jehu too. It’s exactly what the Doctor ordered.
https://hotsnakes.bandcamp.com/album/jericho-sirens

6. Body Futures – Maybe it’s Just the Weather
B-52s and Shudder To Think superhero team-up, Dismemberment Plan covering the New Pornographers. Whatever! Body Futures play music as unique as their name, it’s catchy it’s angular and it’s absolutely vital. Let’s get down to it boppers. 
https://bodyfutures.bandcamp.com/…/maybe-its-just-the…

7. Poster Children – Grand Bargain
First Poster Children album in years and it’s an absolute corker! Intelligent lyrics, catchy riffs, hooks for days and frantic energy are all on deck. Music for the modern revolution. RIYL: Buzzcocks, Sonic Youth, Talking Heads, Husker Du
https://store.posterchildren.com/album/grand-bargain

https://store.posterchildren.com/album/grand-bargain

8. christian fitness – nuance: the musical 
Nuance makes heavy use of strings and adult arrangements? (not pornography, you understand.). There aren’t any “candle in the wind” style ballads, or any regrettable ska numbers, but after 3 rock-solid, rockers certain to please fans of mclusky and fotl. This one is different, denser, & a little more challenging. Delivered with a smirk of sardonicism and a twinge of dystopian theatrical heights. There’s a lot here, but it keeps me coming back to listen regularly. Fantastic album.
https://christianfitness.bandcamp.com/…/nuance-the-musical

9. Haunted Heads – Everything We Agreed About
Unforgettable hooks, raucous riffs and superior songwriting. In a different time Haunted Heads would be the darlings of the indie rock world. RIYL: Built to Spill (at their least jammy!), Sebadoh (at their most stable) and the Thermals. 
https://hauntedheads.bandcamp.com/…/everything-we…

10. TONGUE PARTY – Looking for a Painful Death
Minneapolis purveyors of the heavy come through with their best effort to date! Bringing forth the boundless energy of KARP along with a mid-period AmRep sensibility, Tongue Party’s brand of relentless touring and hard work has resulted in their most badass and immediate record yet. Learning Curve Records
https://tongueparty.bandcamp.com/…/looking-for-a…

HONORABLE MENTIONS!

HONORABLE MENTION 1: BLAHA – Survival Climb
Mike Blaha of the Blind Shake has a hell ass rock quarter, this is their most raucous to date and it’s sure to please those that like their rock both wiry and engaged. Worthy of a listen to anybody interested in the …

Conan Neutron’s Top Records of 2017

Top 10 albums 2017

(stream and download – Episode 109)

Conan
1. Oxbow – Thin Black Duke
2. Lardo – Sinking
3. christian fitness – slap Bass Hunks
4. Mountain Goats – Goths.
5. SEMINARS – Pricks Die Young
6. Magpies – Annex
7. Crystal Fairy – s/t
8. Dead Rider – Crew Licks
9. Out – Swim Buddiess
10. Fever Ray – Plunge

Josh
1. Palm – Shadow Expert ep
2. Power Trip – Nightmare Logic
3. Maximum Busy Muscle – s/t
4. Bon Air – the Blue Line
5. Fox Face – Spoil + Destroy
6. Radioactivity – infected/Sleep
7. Julie Byrne – Not Even Happiness
8. Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory
9. God Eaters – Xuma
10. Arto Lindsay – Cuidado Madame

all numbering relatively arbitrary

Josh #10: arto lindsay – ilha dos prazeres
Arto Lindsey
Josh: Danger Lady, this is fantastic, very much in the vein of what his recent solo career has been like. It’s this very odd combination of the Brazilian music he’s been playing for a number of years, but he’s still doing weird atonal guitar and he’s singing more melodically but it still sounds like Arto Lindsey. So there’s definitely an experimental edge to it… he played in Chicago… a few months ago with the Beauty Pill and it was just incredible.

Conan: Oh, I thought you meant he played in the BAND Chicago. I was like: where’s that record?

Josh I’d pay good money for that.

Conan “huh, they took an unexpected left turn on that one!”

It was an amazing show and this is a relaxing and romantic kind of record, which you wouldn’t necessarily expect.

Conan #10: Fever Ray – This Country
Conan: Number 10 for me is a band called Fever Ray, which is 1/2 of the Knife. This is the second Fever Record, I really love the first one it’s a weird, moody, messed up record. I dig it a lot, I dig this one as well, it’s kind of more of the same. I know some people that listen are super not down with Electro stuff or anything remotely that isn’t guitar bass and brash drums and stuff.

Josh: Geez, they are going to hate a lot of my countdown.

Conan: But I think everything that she does is wildly innovative and interesting. We talked a little bit during the break about that last the Knife record. It’s a harsh listen, but it’s awesome and I love that for a band that became so popular off of what was a very simple electro-poppy song with universal appeal, they just say: “ok, that’s done, we’re doing this now!”. I feel to a lesser degree perhaps, the same stuff happens with the Fever Ray material. I like that her viewpoints are LITERALLY written on her face for this record.

Fever Ray – This Country

Josh #9 god eaters – Signs of the Times
Josh: number 9 is a band we’ve discussed previously, as we’ve definitely played with them, seen them recently and they played Conan’s 40 birthday Party, the God Eaters.
Conan: To be perfectly clear, they would be on this list even if it was not for all of that friendship and cross pollination.
Josh: Oh yes, the friend rock, the only reason there are so many friends on this list is that that is what I listen to. That doesn’t have any affect on how amazing they are, and how much you should check them out.
Conan: Yes, this record kicks ass, this would definitely be on my list as well… I guess it would be a conflict of interest, because they play with *ME* as well. But I love it too.
Josh: Oh, don’t doubt that next year when we do this the Body Futures record will probably be on mine.
Conan: Right, so the God Eaters, it’s your pick… but one of the things I like about them is that they are a difficult band to describe. In mood and feel they remind me of the Minutemen, without sounding that much like the Minutemen.
Josh: Yes, and we were talking about this just recently so if you do listen to the show on a regular basis you will have heard something that sounds just like this. It’s how their sound is psychadelic in that it becomes enveloping, and there is some of that with the Minutemen as well. That there is so much going on with so few elements, but there is a lot happening within it. I feel like they echo some of that. Although they sound nothing like the Minutemen at all. It’s the precepts.
Conan: It’s a hell of a record, I’m sure they’ve already outdone it at this point. This is Zuuuma… that’s how you pronounce it right?
Josh: I would think so.
Conan: Hopefully it’s not exzema. Maybe it’s excema?
Josh: maybe, but the song we’re going to listen to is called Signs of the times.

Conan #9
Out – Wound Up.
Conan: This is a record, I feel was very popular amongst our circles, but needs to be heard by more people. It’s most of the band Minutes, but they should be given due difference on their own. It’s the band OUT, or OOT of you are Canadian.
This is off a record called Swim Buddies, because I guess hanging out and going to the pool or the river or something is at thing people like to do right?
Josh: Sure! They seem to like doing it.
Conan: Yeah! They like it.
Josh: But yeah, they discussed a little bit of our lists beforehand and…
Conan: NO DUPES!!! NO DUPES!!!
Josh: Exactly, we’re trying to get as many different songs out to you as possible, but they certainly would have been on my list. They are a fantastic band, they have a TRIUMPH.
Conan: Yes, they have a triumphant aspect to what they do… it comes from the fugazi/hoover-esque DC world, but there is definitely an …

Top albums of 2016

(stream and download – Episode 92)

It was really hard to get down to 10 for this.
Anybody that says there’s no good music out there has rocks in their head.

The list:

1. Beat Drun Juel – suppressor
2. Whores – Gold
3. Nocturnal Habits – New Skin for Old Children
4. Helms Alee – Stillicide
5. The Cell Phones – No
6. Future of the Left – the Peace and Truce of Future of the Left
7. Blind Shake – Celebrate Your Worth
8. Savak – Best of Luck in Future Endeavors
9. The rutabega – unreliable narrator
10. Christian fitness – this taco is not correct

5 songs that are not on the top 10 records of 2016

1. Melvins – Decay of Lying
2. Big Business – Fathers Day
3. Maple Stave – Call Sign Spider
4. Iggy Pop – Paraguay
5. John Congleton & the Nighty Nite – You are Facing the Wrong Way

LET’S COUNT IT DOWN!

10: Christian fitness – this taco is not correct
Avid listeners and fans of the show will probably remember… probably remember? How could you forget. Episode 89 with Falco, making a record breaking 4th apperance on protonic, this is a great record. I find that a lot of people don’t know it so much. It’s all pretty much Falco, Jack from Future of the Left, Mclusky plays drums. It’s one of the best records that came out this year, that people haven’t paid that much attention that like this kind of music.
Reggie Has Asbestos Training

9. The rutabega – unreliable narrator
This is their second record, the Unreliable Narrator, a little less epic than Brothers The Lights Don’t Work which has been their classic go-to, but the songs are as solid as can be, and very cool. I think you will appreciate it very much, if you haven’t heard it… you really need to. I’m playing one of the lesser known ones here. There is a very specific thing, there’s emotions! there’s feelings! it’s not just noise all the time. You can find it at Comedy Minus One, they are good people, making good music from South Bend Indiana. I happened to pick the one that is the darkest most emotional journey on the record, that’s how we do at Protonic Reversal.
I dig this one, this is the moody closer. I’ve Been the Armour

Also find them at Comedy Minus One
Josh and Garth appeared on the show all the way back in episode 33!

8. Savak – Best of Luck in Future Endeavors
This is a supergroup of sorts, members of Obits and Virgin Islands. I quite like it, I don’t know exactly what I was expecting but it’s a really good hot rocking good time. Episode 84 featured Sohrab of Savak, Obits, Edsel. This record came out early in the year, and I feel like it made a big impact with folks, but I feel like people aren’t giving it the deference it deserves. There’s an almost new wave-y element to it that i’m really into, but this is some serious rock music at the same time.

Also available on Comedy Minus One

7. Blind Shake – Celebrate Your Worth
One of the best bands loosely affiliated with the new garage rock “movement”, they are on their own thing, their own trip. The Blind Shake! Possibly my favorite since Seriousness. Just excellent stuff all around. This one is on Goner.
This one is a little less noisy, and a little more DEVO from Pluto.

6. Future of the Left – the Peace and Truce of Future of the Left
I feel like the last few Future of the Left records are divisive for some reason, people seem to be really into them or not into them at all. And they don’t give them a chance. They dont’ give it a chance. This is a band that keeps getting better, I frankly like them better than mclusky. Which is heretical for a lot of folks and I don’t care. It’s a busy world, out there. You should make time for this one.

Again Episode 89 for Falco’s last appearance

5. The Cell Phones – No
Believe it or not, I find this band a little hard to describe. Truth told, they sound like themselves, but when pressed I say they sound like Tina Turner fronting NoMeansNo, Freddie Mercury fronting DFA1979, Sharon Jones (of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings) fronting the Minutemen, none of that makes much sense, but it gets you to a starting point. The record is called NO, two words. NO. How do you talk about something like this without just saying: “this kicks ass, shut up stupid, and listen!”. It sounds like it’s from another planet, but I mean that as a compliment!

4. Helms Alee – Stillicide
Brace Yourself.
Great band, one of those bands that are just difficult to describe but are top to bottom wonderful. A unique voice in heavy music, melodic, epic, adventerous.
Go find them at Sargent House

3. Nocturnal Habits – New Skin for Old Children
This is Justin Trosper and Sara from Unwound, with some Two Ton Boa action in there as well. It’s amazing, I love this record, i’ve listened to it lots. One of the deeper cuts on this one. Lush as hell and great stuff. Soothing in it’s way.
An alternate universe sequel to Leaves Turn Inside you by Unwound.

Of course Justin Trosper was also on last episode.

2. Whores – Gold

Two time guest on the show. Last appearance was episode 90. This is off the record Gold. It’s a bomber. They …

Conan Neutron’s best of 2013 | Hey, look: I like the rock music!

After what was largely a year of crippling self doubt and lack of enthusiasm in regards to writing anything, I managed to complete a list of some of my favorite records for the year 2013.

It was easy, it was a great year for music. I encourage everybody to check out this list I did for 2013’s best records on Collapse Board:

Hey, look: I like the rock music. I get it, a lot of you don’t. You like this sort of “indie rock” that sounds like background music to designing your new recombobulating widget. I get it. I do. But let’s suspend disbelief and say that you want to get beyond the nonsense.

Let’s say that you even don’t feel it’s necessary to have an opinion on Miley Cyrus or Beyonce. Let’s say the idea of talking about Kanye West or Vampire Weekend makes you sick. LET’S SUSPEND DISBELIEF HERE AND SAY THAT… MAYBE.. JUST MAYBE… THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN THE ARCADE FUCKING FIRE.

WELL THEN! Come on over and sit a spell and let me break down what I liked about this year in no particular order:

The Rutabega – Brother The Lights Don’t Work

Look, I called this one and I called it early. You are welcome. Exhibit A To quote myself: “This is some music folks. Turn off that tepid fourth generation Crosby, Stills And Nash crap and turn on THIS.

Look: here’s the problem, earnestness has been hijacked by utter idiots and fools, wastoids and shameless marketeers. That isn’t the fault of sincerity; it’s just a systemic problem. The Rutabega singlehandedly states the case for sincerity itself in such a clear and cogent way the only reaction is to softly smile, bob your head a little bit and give into the tidal wave of sad, simple, beauty that issues forth.”

Way to go past me! I agree with you. Now, check out this band, they are worth your time and will pay you dividends.

Federation X – We Do What We Must

Federation X has been around 16 years. SIXTEEN YEARS! Granted they were semi broken up/on hiatus for some of those years, but it’s worth mentioning that albums like American Folk Horror and X-Patriot are two of the finest records of the 00s. Just remarkable music. tribal, driven and relentless. Informed from classic rock, but owing almost nothing to it. I’d be lying to you if I said We Do What We Must is anything less than one of the finest rock albums of the entire year, the Deaf Nephews production (Toshi Kasai and Dale Crover of the Melvins) is so incredible, and so brilliantly encapsulates what they do it’s like hearing them for the first time. That said: I adore their back catalog. Much like Patrick Bateman, I celebrate it… but if you were only to listen to We Do What We Must you would be pretty stoked. It had a quiet release, but if it’s a competition? It kicks the hell out of most other records out there. Get into it, because this is some special stuff. Cool? Cool.

Oh yeah, ‘Anna Mist’ and ‘So Tired’ rank among the best songs in this band’s kickass timespan. Most bands can’t even say that about their second record. This is their fourth… do yourself a favor and check it out ok?

The Night Marchers – Allez! Allez!

It is almost possible to speak of The Night Marchers without the cult/culture of John Reis being involved. Which is a shame, since they are a hell ass rock band of their own. Yes, yes. 3/4 of this band was Hot Snakes which were one of the most fantastic rock/punk bands of the last 14 years or so. But don’t let the resume be all that you think of with this very, very sharp rock’n’roll band. There is homage to Greg Sage and The Wipers, there is common cause with the members other bands… but Allez! Allez! is a pretty great little rock record. ‘All Hits’ is exactly the kind of braggadocio I wish more rock music had (with the skills to back it up, ‘Pain’ and ’2 Guitars Sing’ show some interesting experimentation and vulnerability that I really love. It’s good man. And I would tell people that this record kicked ass even if the one guy had never been in the one thing. It’s just damn good rock’n’roll. Is that the kind of thing you are into? Well, are you?

Queens Of The Stone Age – …Like Clockwork

What? What? A record that might have some overlap to some other lists out there? Well, for good reason. QOTSA have consistently been making interesting mainstream rock music heavily informed by the genres of the underground for some time. A lot of people hated on Era Vulgaris, their last outing. Those people are wrong, but either way… this is a much different affair, vulnerable and open. Almost David Bowie like in some ways (but far better than Bowie’s “totally ok” The Next Day) this is a QOTSA that isn’t quite going for the throat but is using everything in it’s arsenal to make a hell of a record. I think it’s a damn shame that most people have already made their decision on this band as to whether they like or not, because they are probably the most creative and interesting band operating in the mainstream right now. A record about tribulation, actually near loss of life and feeling alone in a crowded room. You have my attention Josh Homme and company. And this is a far better record than most people in the underground will give credit to it. Sorry about that.

Marnie Stern – The Chronicles Of Marnia

Oh Marnie! Marnie, Marnie, Marnie… how you make me smile. I love how you take the frantic punk prog thing and marry it to your interesting songs. What would be a lot of “saw you up there… rockin’!” technique in lesser hands is

Music is too important to be relegated to the background – Conan Neutron’s Best of 2011 in Music

Music is far too important to be relegated to the background. And while many “Best of” or “Top 10” lists are full of background music for background people, I reject that wholesale. We live in a world overburdened and surrounded by tawdry flacks and cheap howling sideshow men yelping for your attention at every level. All demanding that they and ONLY they have found the NEXT.BIG.THING. Finding a filter for this isn’t just a nice thing, it’s nearly a requirement.

In any case, it’s a world gone topsy turvy when certain other sites of “music writing”, never to be confused with actual music criticism, FAMOUS for being a closed system are suddenly soliciting a reader’s poll. What do you think, is this progress?

In any case, just because something is popular means that it is good, it just means that it is popular. However, certain powerful forces that have dominated the majority of the music world have been awash in pushing forward a certain branded identity. Whether they admit it or not, there is culpability and an aesthetic that favors the Starbucks variety of sensitivity and vaguely inoffensive background melody and music. So therefore, let us all give thanks that there is a place on the Internet that you can read and INTERACT with actual music criticism. A place where people who truly LOVE music will both tell you when they see miserable failure, but can present to you what they love. Sometimes in an easy list form.

2011 was an incredible year for music and here are some of the things that made it even more incredible for me, as a fan of rock music in no particular order

Look at the list here.

Conan’s Top 10 records of 2010

DEVO – Something for Everybody
Torche – Songs for Singles
Grinderman – 2
Melvins – Bride Screamed Murder
The Bismarck – Great Plains
Poison Control Center – Sad Sour Future
Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse – Dark Night of the Soul
Les Savy Fav – Root For Ruin
Karl Rove: Courage and Consequence comp LP
Jaill – That’s How We Burn

There were other records that I liked or came close, that was my list. …