I only continue to do this because Village Voice forces me via the Pazz & Jop ballot. The 2014 lists are dedicated to young one Rik Mayall. Rik, your death continues to fill me with profound sadness.
JG2’s TOPPEST ALBUMS OF 2014
1. Babymetal – BABYMETAL
Who knew Kawaii could save metal from itself? Japanese school girls bring ABBA-esque melody and untold charisma to extreme rock’s grim battlefield, setting off an hour that would wow Francis Scott Key. BABYMETAL is the year’s black and blue dance party pinnacle.
2. Run The Jewels – RTJ2
Another swift upper cut from the dynamite Killer Mike + El-P combo. No time wasted, so space misused, so very authentic. Any other rappers who might brag about “teabag[ing] a piranha tank” would be laughed off the Internet. Extra points for the Zack De La Rocha cameo.
3. Cannabis Corpse – From Wisdom To Baked
Death metal and pot have paralleled each other in ascent to the mainstream, so perhaps death metal about pot was inevitable. A hilarious grind even if you’ve never cradled a bong or owned Eaten Back To Life on vinyl.
4. Riff Raff – Neon Icon
All the benefits of cotton candy with none of the hangover. Sealed his place on this list the second he referenced Mario Kart in the slippery party starter “Kokayne.” What a crime that song wasn’t released as a single.
5. Ghostface Killah – 36 Seasons
“Staten Island ain’t the same”; thankfully Ghostface is, which means we’re in a renaissance. This hip hop + soul gumbo simmers on the stovetop. You can feel the heat but it’s oh so comforting.
6. Brody Dalle – Diploid Love
If Dalle is looking to secure a Joan Jett legacy this is a rabbit kick in the right direction. Feisty, self-assured, endlessly anthemic (thanks mostly to Brody’s smoky vocal heft). Extra points for the Shirley Manson cameo.
7. The Oath – The Oath
Roaring doom rock worthy of soundtracking your next exorcism. Johanna Sadonis’s ghostly wail has a numbing effect, which is perfect salve for the sonic panzer behind her. Unfortunately, these evil nieces of Heart have already broken their Oath (the band dissolved last year).
8. Nashville Pussy – Up The Dosage
Meanwhile, below the Mason-Dixon Line, gnarly shit-kickers tell it like it is, even when it doesn’t benefit their agenda (see “The South’s Too Fat To Rise Again”). If rock is dead Nashville Pussy’s trying to punt the corpse, and that’s plenty entertaining.
9. Del The Funky Homosapien – Iller Than Most
Technically a mixtape that Del himself described as “nothing super heavy,” but Iller packs plenty of finely focused disco robot punch. The Homosapien flow slips and slides all over, never going off track, occasionally offering refreshing candor (see the Beastie Boys shout out).
10. Blood Red Shoes – Blood Red Shoes
Delightfully growling and disaffected effort from this Brit pop garage duo. May not be their strongest composition-wise but it sets a fine mood (if you enjoy standing in moderate rain at the bus stop).
JG2’s TOPPEST SINGLES OF 2014
Captures all the bleary intrigue of staying awake until sunrise.
A cold, futuristic ballad whose melancholy crashes into nihilistic punk sneer.
This density traps you under its rigid thumb, slowing you to an intense crawl.
To paraphrase J. Lydon, don’t accept the old order, destroy it.
If Al decided to focus on nerdcore rap I don’t think any of us would complain.
Just demented enough to satiate.
Jon Daly gets the Chili Peppers in his cross hairs and I shit myself laughing.
More uplifting than a “South Park” spin-off has any right to be.
This is probably how Disney era Miley would have approached it, right?
Sexy swagger de la muerte.
Here they be, the same exact lists I submitted to Village Voice for their 2013 Pazz & Jop poll, expanded with my useless piddling thoughts on each entry. You should still wade through Pazz & Jop when The Voice posts it, though, for my point breakdown (yes, they force us to assign our album selections a specific point grade, because life is one big knuckle-chewing exam).
I hereby dedicate this year’s best of balderdash to the late Bonnie Franklin (pictured above). We lost this small screen pioneer way too soon. Bonnie was Iggy to Roseanne’s J. Rotten; on top of that, she seemed like a real together person offscreen. Respect and rest in peace, Bon.
JG2’s TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2013
1. Ghostface Killah / Adrian Younge – Twelve Reasons To Die
I’m sure Robert Rodriguez is going to waste the next year of his life working on Machete Kills One More Time With Feeling but he really should be trying to adapt this taught, soulful comic book concept album for the silver screen. Not that he could actually improve upon Ghostface / Adrian’s grit-streaked narrative—I just want to see the phrase “BASED ON THE GHOSTFACE KILLAH ALBUM” blown up for IMAX 3-D.
2. Superchunk – I Hate Music
Speaking of movie trailer talk, James Greene, Jr. of Orlando Weekly gives Superchunk’s I Hate Music four stars, calling it “gorgeous [and] liberating…indie rock candy” and the “perfect soundtrack for any spontaneous new adventure.” Hope to see that printed on future editions of IHM.
3. Kanye West – Yeezus
In the words of R. Nixon, “Do you want to make a point or do you want to make a change? Do you want to get something off your chest or do you want to get something done?” Kanye’s never had an answer for these questions, which is why his music is so consistently electrifying. Is it also overblown and self-indulgent? Totes, but no more so than anything U2’s ever done—and Kanye cracks wise way better than Bono.
4. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels
This album pretends to hit you and then gives you two for flinching. Dirty, loose, threatening, thrilling…Run The Jewels is the playground bully you secretly want as your BFF. Sure as Pepperidge Farm remembers a bunch of corny Norman Rockwell shit, RTJ remembers when rap was a distilled menace, a simpler time when being from “the streets” carried no irony.
5. Bloodlights – Stand or Die
It’s hard rock, it’s pop, it’s a bruised apple of both genres boasting no worms but plenty of heaving hooks. Bloodlights are more cohesive here than the band we saw on 2010’s Simple Pleasures; the new muscle is appreciated, especially when that middle eight kicks in on the sour “Time to Kill.”
6. The Stooges – Ready to Die
James Williamson returns to the fold after dog knows how long to produce, co-write, and play killer guitar on the most exciting thing Iggy Pop’s put his name on since 2001’s Beat ‘Em Up. Is it really the Stooges? Look, I know people who think Raw Power isn’t really the Stooges. All I know is Ready to Die is more crisp, sexy, and fun than it has any right to be, and I sure ain’t mad this fucker is now in the same lineage as Fun House.
7. GWAR – Battle Maximus
Never mind all the foam rubber, these guys can groove. Shades of classic era White Zombie color GWAR’s lucky thirteen studio release and I’ll be a maggot-sucking space zombie if “Madness At The Core Of Time” isn’t the best rock album opener of the year. My teeth are still clenched.
8. Future of the Left – How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident
Feels like a band-aid slowly peeled from a very hair patch of flesh, or “How To Orgasm Through Rug Burn” starring your favorite sulphuric post punk misanthropes. Nobody puts a musical button on cynicism quite like Future of the Left. A pox on any who previously called for their disbandment.
9. Melt-Banana – Fetch
This furious and spastic platter is what people mean when they say “taste the colors.” And yet, Melt-Banana’s been at their brain-bending game of rock disintegration for so long it felt comforting when Fetch dropped. What a treat for us to get this synapse pounding!
10. The Lonely Island – The Wack Album
The Wack Album deflates the tag of “joke rap” by cushioning its yuks with some of the most invigorating, inventive beats of 2013. If I said “‘Saturday Night Live’ rap album” to you in 1991 you would have laughed for very different reasons. Be glad someone can bankroll this reality.
JG2’s TOP TEN SINGLES OF 2013
Metal grinding swirled with J-pop continues to be ultramodern chocolate and peanut butter. May these sweet children never stop.
Profane and anti-romance, yet still romantic. Honesty is the best policy (at least for Kanye).
No one parodies Britney more deftly than herself. I don’t want to spend any time debating whether that’s intentional or not, I just want to bathe in this glorious stupidity and let its subliminal messages amuse me.
It can be July in Orange County whenever / where ever you are, brah.
The voice of Johanna Sadonis floats like a benevolent angel over the most turgid and spine-tingling of Sabbathy reinterpretations. Trad metal lives thanks to this Euro quartet. What are you wearing to the black mass?
Sure, it’s cheese metal, but a fine gruyere. Listen to how that chorus bounces around like a tennis ball between two excited golden retrievers!
The frenemies anthem that needs to be in the next direct-to-vid Mean Girls sequel / reboot.
Everything you could want in a club banger—throbbing bass, throbbing exuberance, and coffin jokes. “Wobblty wobblty drop / into my grave plot” gets my vote for lyrical couplet of the year.
Denser than dark matter, a blurry bleary drug trip that doubles as an empowerment anthem. Kanye would have created this if he had more confidence.
“Surprise, bitch,” Ice Cube’s 1993 attitude said as it walked through the door. “I bet you thought you’d seen the last of me.”
Who Am JG2?
BRAVE PUNK WORLD
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The Misfits Book
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