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PST's 50 Best Albums of 2014

Posted by Billy Gil, December 5, 2014 02:48pm | Post a Comment

50 Best Albums of 2014

This is how it always works: You think, how am I going to find 50 albums I really liked this year? Then by the end of compiling these things, you’re leaving off records you really liked and realizing that this year didn’t suck so badly after all! Here are the 50 albums I honestly felt were the most well-made, original or enjoyable this year. Check out Aaron Detroit’s list, too, for even more good shit from 2014.

 

1. Sun Kil MoonBenji

sun kil moon benji lpAmid the wrongheaded War on Drugs bashing and indulgent songwriting/self-mythologizing that came with it, it could be easy to forget the brilliance of Benji. But Mark Kozelek’s later-career renaissance reaches its apex on Benji. Whereas songs in his ’90s project Red House Painters were often autobiographical, if morose and romantic, if, to call Benji “confessional” would be an understatement. Not only is it a classic example oversharing in the social media age, it’s just a new classic period, the best thing he’s done since RHP’s heyday. Two songs directly address Kozelek’s love for his aging parents as he himself hits middle age (“I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love” and “I Love My Dad” are far from ironic, though they cover ground beyond what their titles suggest). “Dogs” covers Kozelek’s history with women in sometimes excruciating detail, from his first kiss at 5 to getting bathed by two women. Part of what makes Benji so masterful is how Kozelek blends rich physical details, with references to Panera Bread and Pink Floyd records, along with impressionistic accounts, such as his atmospheric telling of what caught his attention in a Led Zeppelin film (“I Watched the Film the Song Remains the Same”) and what that says about him as a person. It can be a lot to take in at once—“Micheline” at first feels like a diary dump, though it ends on a touching note about his grandmother—but most of the time, the details are funny or poignant or both, coming through clearly with little more than Kozelek’s wavering, creaking voice and reverbed acoustic guitar. “Ben’s My Friend,” which ends the album with its catchiest song (and curiosity value, due to its titular subject being Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie), is a sterling reminder of how many little things add up to the sum of our lives, making a pretty refrain out of “blue crab cakes,” throwing in some horns and flamenco guitar for good measure and tying the album up nicely with a reflective bow. Kozelek may be a cranky old man, but his lifetime of experiences made for enrapturing listening on Benji, which simply has the best songwriting of any music release this year.

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The Best Albums of 2014 So Far

Posted by Billy Gil, June 27, 2014 04:54pm | Post a Comment

sun kil moon mark kozelekmadlibst. vincentIt is now almost exactly halfway through 2014! It’s time to look back on the last six months and see what’s it’s had to offer music-wise. There’s already been a bunch of great records released this year, including a couple of excellent ones released just this week. If you haven’t checked these out, they’re all worth getting—pick ’em all up and catch up on what you’ve been missing.

Sun Kil Moon Benji

sun kil moon benji lpSome people write memoirs. Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek write songs crammed with details, from a brutal story about a distant cousin’s death by a freak fire to mundane details about Panera bread and sports bar shit on the walls, that somehow come together to form something called a life. Just when you feel like the songs are too stuffed to keep up, Kozelek will let his breathy “sadcore” folk open up and focus on a seemingly trivial line like “blue crab cakes” in the song “Ben's My Friend,” and in doing so perfectly captures the weird things that stick out in our heads when we reflect. Simply put, listening is like attending a master class in songwriting.

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Album Picks: Sun Kil Moon, Tinariwen, Snowbird

Posted by Billy Gil, February 11, 2014 08:48am | Post a Comment

Sun Kil Moon - Benji (CD or Download)

sun kil moon benji lp amoebaThe prolific Mark Kozelek has been undergoing a career renaissance of sorts. Whereas songs in his ’90s project Red House Painters were often autobiographical, if morose and romantic, if, to call his recent releases with Sun Kil Moon confessional would be an understatement. Not only is Benji a classic example oversharing in the social media age, it’s just a new classic period, the best thing he’s done since RHP’s heyday. Two songs directly address Kozelek’s love for his aging parents as he himself hits middle age (“I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love” and “I Love My Dad” are far from ironic, though they cover ground beyond what their titles suggest). “Dogs” covers Kozelek’s history with women in sometimes excruciating detail, from his first kiss at 5 to getting bathed by two women. Part of what makes Benji so masterful is how Kozelek blends rich physical details, with references to Panera Bread and Pink Floyd records, along with impressionistic accounts, such as his atmospheric telling of what caught his attention in a Led Zeppelin film (“I Watched the Film the Song Remains the Same”) and what that says about him as a person. It can be a lot to take in at once—“Micheline” at first feels like a diary dump, though it ends on a touching note about his grandmother—but most of the time, the details are funny or poignant or both, coming through clearly with little more than Kozelek’s wavering, creaking voice and reverbed acoustic guitar. “Ben’s My Friend,” which ends the album with its catchiest song (and curiosity value, due to its titular subject being Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie), is a sterling reminder of how many little things add up to the sum of our lives, making a pretty refrain out of “blue crab cakes,” throwing in some horns and flamenco guitar for good measure and tying the album up nicely with a reflective bow. Simply put, Benji is an album for fans of songwriting and storytelling, the mastery of which makes it unmissable.

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out this week 7/13 & 7/20...frank (just frank)...phranc...the kids are alright...

Posted by Brad Schelden, July 22, 2010 01:55pm | Post a Comment

My new favorite band of the week has got to be Frank (Just Frank). I love when a band comes out of nowhere into my life-- I didn't even know they existed until last week but now they are in my life and I love it. I am not talking about Frank Sinatra, and I am not talking about the lesbian musician Phranc. (Although any time I get a chance to talk about Phranc I sort of have to go for it.) Frank (Just Frank) is a new band on the fantastic Brooklyn label Wierd Records. The band is from Paris, France...at least, sort of. They are what you would think Cold Wave would sound like. This album could have easily been made in the 80s, which is, of course, why I love it. It is dark and brooding. It is weird and atmospheric. It is not exactly the sort of album you might put on when thinking of LA in the summer. It's more like London or Berlin in the middle of winter! But I love it for summer. I have my Beach House and Ave Buffalo for the summer, and my Best Coast and Surfer Blood, but I need something dark to balance those records out. Those pop albums can't really exist without something that sounds like their opposite! The new album is called Brutal Wave, a perfect title for the album. It is dark synth, like a dark shoegaze band. There are dark jangly moments that make me think of the darker Smiths songs or the Cocteau Twins. One of their songs replicates the opening of an XTC song. There are some really great songs on this album and it reminds me of Clan of Xymox at times! It's definitely somewhere between New Order and Joy Division.

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What I Listened to Most in 2008

Posted by Miss Ess, January 1, 2009 04:23pm | Post a Comment
Since I write about what I listen to fairly often, this list may be a bit redundant, but consider it a happy round up! This is what was getting to me the most in 2008, whether it was released in 2008 or 1974, whether I'd heard it a zillion times before or it was something new to my ears.

Rodriguez - Cold Fact


Bonnie Prince Billy - Lie Down in the Light


Bobby Charles - s/t


Sun Kil Moon - "Glenn Tipton" from Ghosts of the Great Highway


Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers - "Islands in the Stream"

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