Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Absentee Blogger's New Fav'rits

What the hell? Tell me it is not November already. Tell me it hasn't really been three months since my last post. Man. I suck at this. My apologies to the regular readers of this page. Seriously, both of you deserve so much more. My bad.

Don't let my conspicuous absence fool you, I have been acquiring new music at my regular, ridiculous pace. It's just that my own procrastination, combined with the events of everyday (and not so everyday) life, both suckalicious and otherwise, have prevented me from saying much about them here. I have in fact, amassed a rather large stack of new deliciousness over the last few months, but so much of it has fallen into the "very good" category, while not much has landed in the "undeniably great" pile. As I begin to look back on the musical year that is 2013, I'm finding that a lot of releases that I have already discussed during the first half of the year remain near the top of my "Best of 2013" list. That said, there have been at least two absolute winners in recent weeks, which I shall discuss presently.

Connan Mockasin Caramel (Phantasy)

The reigning king of Kiwi strangeness apparently spent a month locked in a Japanese hotel room concocting something truly extraordinary. This is quite simply one of the most delightfully odd albums I have ever heard in my life. It just came out yesterday. I'm just now giving it a second listen. Yet is has already penetrated my psyche and turned my brain to a puddle of sticky goo, oozing viscously around my cranium.

 I am not sure how to accurately describe its magnificent weirdness. I have commented elsewhere that it is "like a euro-synth-pop-new-romantic-80sR&B record played at the bottom of a swimming pool full of sauvignon blanc and LSD", and that it plays "hopscotch on the razor-thin line between sexy and creepy". One of Connan's fans put it nicely: "Connan has somehow managed to transform caramel into a psychedelic sex album processed through a funk machine". A friend of mine noted, "Forever Dolphin Love seemed to be approaching the edge Connan's particular kind of weird, but he seems to have found a whole new dimension where it can spread out". NME's review aptly began, "You’ve got to admire a guy willing to put out music that resembles Syd Barrett, Prince and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac mashed up and played backwards". That not enough for you? These two reviews capture Caramel's essence beautifully.

Caramel is destined to be near the top of my "Best of 2013", but it will likely be overshadowed by...

Neko Case The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You (Anti)

The divine Ms. Neko has emerged from a period of mourning and depression and given us her finest and most personal album to date. I cannot say enough about this record, yet I don't really know what to say. Words fail me. It has one of the best titles ever. Each listen gives me goosebumps. Numerous moments make we want to weep openly. "Man", the first single from the album is the best song I've heard this year. It is a shame that Neko has been all but completely ostracized by the mainstream country music world, as she is the best country singer I've heard since Patsy Cline, and she deserves wider recognition for her brilliance.  The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You is my current frontrunner for best album of 2013. It may also be the best "alt-country" album ever made.