Juanita's Top Albums of 2017

This is my short list of albums that have stood out this year thus far. Quiet a few were discoveries during SXSW. 

Here we go: I highly recommend listening to these albums when you get a chance.

Vagabon- Infinite Worlds (Released Feb. 24th, 2017)

Vagabond Infinite Worlds

Minus the Bear- VOIDS

Minus the Bear Voids

NE-HI- Offers (Released Feb. 24th, 2017)

NE-HI Offers

Flint Eastwood-Broke Royalty (Released April 14th, 2017)

Flint Eastwood Broke Royalty

Temples-Volcano (Released March 3rd)

Temples Volcano

Blanck Mass- World Eater ( Released March 3rd)

Blanck Mass World Eater

Gorillaz- Humanz (Deluxe) (Released April 28th)

Gorillaz Humanz

Johnny Jewel- Windswept (Released May 10th)

Johnny Jewel Windswept

West Texas never disappoints

West Texas never disappoints

Marfa is on the Union Pacific railroad line out west a few hours from the Texas and Mexico border. This little town is a hidden gem in the middle-of-nowhere with fantastic contemporary art and gorgeous scenery in every direction as far as the eye can see.

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August Playlist Inspired by TV Series Stranger Things

This month I had my birthday which has reminded me to stay true to myself and just savor the little things more. I've also gone back to my roots and have been listening to a lot of synth pop and shoe-gazer post punk which I'm sure has everything to do with watching Stranger Things and my sudden resurgent interest in that 70s and 80s synth sound.

What I can't stop listening to:

Velvet Condom Stadtgeil

This Berlin-based duo, Alice Von & Oberst Panizza create delicious retro and 80s-inspired beats that effortlessly seem to transport me back to my angst-ridden teenage years waging a war with myself trying to seem so odd and cool. Listen here.

Underpass- Assimilation

Somehow this album escaped my radar back in 2014. This band is from Olympia, Washington and takes the cake for the album that is making me happiest this month. Assimilation was released by Desire Records (France). Buy it here. Name your price for the band's whole discography.

The Soft Moon

The Soft Moon came out with their self-titled debut 6 years ago now. Wow! How times flies. Deeper Remixed is definitely worth a listen. Buy it here.

Black Mountain- Year Zero

This album is the soundtrack to an indie post-apocalyptic surf movie. I know, that all sounds like things that wouldn't go together well, right? Well, this album really shines with a greasy, dazed, water-logged kind of metallic brightness. I stumbled onto this after realizing that the Beyond the Black Rainbow soundtrack was written byJeremy Schmidt, the keyboardist of Black Mountain. Again, relish in the retro 80s synth-pop.

The Evens-Get Even

So glad to be able to listen to all of the Discord Records archives on bandcamp! I'm new to Ian MacKaye and Amy Farina's band The Evens. I can't wait to listening to the the Fugazi and Minor Threat demos and rare material.

Amnesia Scanner

This Berliner glitch DJ duo creates beats that make me a little insane and pleasantly discordant with a slight case of vertigo. If you are into that sort of thing.... listen here.

Released on Young Turks record label. Buy it here.

Road Trips: Texas to California

I recently took a cross-country road trip to California to visit my best friend who lives in Huntington Beach.

Driving out West is an experience that everyone should try and do at least once. Living in a densely populated, multicultural, and fairly progressive city makes it easy to sometimes forget that there are huge portions of this country that are literally desert for hundreds upon hundreds of miles where people live via television and the internet.

The billboards advertise clean rooms and internet. What more could a road warrior want? I just drove through these towns but what is it actually like to live there and how do the people cope with their harsh surroundings? The dozens of ghost towns are reminders of American expansionism and Capitalist dreams that have since dried up and blown away. Of course people have lived out in the desert for thousands of years, but in the last hundred years as more and more people have abandoned small town life, I can imagine it is hard to hold on to a dying lifestyle.

Being from New Mexico, I am no stranger to the enchanted desert landscape but STILL it's quiet extraordinary driving through the painted desert and petrified forests of millions of years ago and see ancient forests where once there were massive rivers and dinosaurs roaming freely.

Movie Review: The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines starts off with a bang! We first meet Luke (Ryan Gosling) in his surreal work environment at a carnival as an extreme motorcyclist who sees an old fling, Romina, (Eva Mendez) waiting for him outside the tent one night after the show.

 

Ryan Gosling's fling with Romina seems to have been based on physical attraction alone and it is clear that Luke is a loner with no direction in life. Luke learns that Romina has a son and that the baby is his. From this point on Luke tries to hold down a steady job at a mechanic's shop but can't seem to make enough money to get by, let alone support his son and Romina. Luke doesn't have a meaningful conversation with Romina about his parental role as a father and has an attitude that if only he had more money he could be a better father. Luke's convinced himself that he can make it work for his new family even though Romina is currently living with her new boyfriend who is fathering her son.

This is such a sad turning point in the movie and reveals Luke's serious moral and ethical flaws. Luke has a very limited understanding of family and what constitutes a meaningful relationship. From here on out the plot revolves around a cop named Avery (Bradley Cooper), and his family whose lives have been brought together with Luke's under unfortunate and tragic circumstances. There are more twists and turns that unravel when Luke and Avery's high school age boys become unexpected friends. Their relationship is more about them coming of age and their individual rites of passage into adulthood and what that will entail for each of them is both heart-wrenching to watch but quiet epic.

Overall, the The Place Beyond the Pines is about the intertwined lives of all the characters in the small town of Schenectady, NY that Luke touched in some way and about how family affects our perception of ourselves and shapes our future even when their only legacy is the baggage they leave behind.

Best of 2013 Playlist and Reviews

Listen to my Best of 2013 playlist on rdio.

  • Washed Out, A.K.A, Ernest Greene's third album, Paracosm, didn't venture too far astray from what he does best, super mellow chill wave ambiance. The whole album is cohesive and combines multiple layers of clapping, chirping birds, crowds of chattering people mixed with chimes and lyrics that are self-conscious and showcase his vulnerability and honesty.
  • Darkside is another band that jumped onto my radar in 2013. This Brooklyn duo is a collaboration between Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington. Their album Psychic combines lo-fi distortion and sustained loops that are both suspenseful and dramatic. I would love to see ERAAS perform with Darkside. That would be an amazing show. The nondescript vocals create tension and anxiety. Overall, this album could be the soundtrack to a new David Lynch movie. I'm looking forward to seeing them on tour this year. Here's their tour schedule. I'm excited to see them in Austin, Texas on Jan. 31st at Emo's.
  • Deafheaven's Sunbather was quiet a revelation for me. Having rarely listened to black metal before, the sheer energy of the drums and the harmonies of the guitars gripped me and kept me completely engaged the full length of the album. The vocals add an extra layer of intensity. This was the album quiet literally made me interested in black metal. I find the combination of chill wave and metal to be a thrilling combination and I can't wait to hear more from this band. What they've done with Sunbather was quiet extraordinary. My favorite songs on Sunbather are Dream House (of course) and Vertigo.
  • Fuck Button's, Slow Focus is a study in masterful and eerie beats combined with a knack for knowing when to trim the fat and lead the listener slowly into a more elaborate web of textures. If you are not familiar with Fuck Buttons I recommend listening to Tarot Sport first. The song, Surf Solar, happens to be one of my favorite songs of all time. I think it will give you a little taste of how much FB's musicality has expanded over the years if you listen to it back to back with Slow Focus.
  • The Knife's, Shaking the Habitual takes this Swedish electronic band's high strung antics up a notch with their 2013 album. The song Full of Fire is intense, in-your-face with dissonant strings and fast-paced frantic beats. This is their fourth album and it seems like they are not losing their focus.
  • Small Black's Limits of Desire has been on repeat on since my first listen. The band's uncanny ability to write anthems about cliches and heart ache that don't come off as trite or over thought makes them a winner for me.
  • Widowspeak's Almanac and The Swamps was a tie for me. I love them both equally. There's a wonderful whimsical retro vibe about them that I initially fell for but they continue to amaze with their delicate folksy indie rock. I'm hooked on Molly Hamilton's voice and it doesn't hurt this duo is from New York. They have a refreshing sound that keeps me coming back for multiple listens.
  • Chelsea Wolfe, Pain Is Beauty. This album is pure black magic. I mean that in the best way possible. There's a hypnotic poetry to her lyrics that I liken to being in a seductive trance of a lover. I would love to see Chelsea Wolfe play with Esben and the Witch.
  • Gauntlet Hair, Stills was quiet a departure from their debut album. Gauntlet Hair has since broken up, much to my dismay. I'm sad that I didn't get to see them perform last summer in New York. The song Human Nature on Stills continues to shine off their last album. Record Label: Mexican Summer
  • Beach Fossils, Clash The Truth is probably the only band that I have included on my list that is shoe-gazer indie rock. I'm not sure why others didn't make it onto the list. My favorite songs are Birthday, In Vertigo, and Burn You Down.