Best of 2017 Mix

What a brutal, beautiful, terrifying year.  Everyone I love struggled and everyone I love strove to do their best.  I don’t really know what else to say.  There was tragedy and triumph, and most importantly communities getting stronger.  Here’s some of the music I loved this year.

2017 Year End List Mix

  1. Cold Cave – Glory
  2. The Gift – Blank Stare
  3. Converge A Single Tear
  4. King Woman – Hierophant
  5. Falls Of Rauros – White Granite
  6. Outreau – M.D.H.
  7. Clayface – Sister Is Dead
  8. Hide – 91 Lashes
  9. Ritual Veil – All Black
  10. Chelsea Wolfe – 16 Psyche
  11. Bromure – Catacombes
  12. Akatharsia – Groveling Towards Oblivion
  13. Vatican Shadow – They Deserve Death
  14. Ritual Howls – Their Bodies
  15. Nidstang – Ergi
  16. False – Hunger
  17. Cigarettes After Sex – Each Time You Fall In Love
  18. Rixe – Tenter Le Diable
  19. Limp Wrist – Como Vos
  20. Wear You Wounds – Shine

 Favorite records, in slight order: 

Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper LP – (Profound Lore)

This is actually my favorite LP of 2017.  The only reason it didn’t make it on the mix is because the song is massive, clocking in at 83 minutes.  If you somehow haven’t heard this, go listen to it.  Easily one of the most haunting doom metal records ever recorded.

 Cold Cave – Glory (Heartworm)

Cold Cave rarely release a record that’s a miss for me.  Glory is no exception.  Maybe I’m a fanboy buying into the hype, but goddamnit, this song is just so catchy and Wesley Eisold is one of my favorite lyricists, constantly capturing the foul ennui and alienation of a burning world, but making you want to dance your black heart out as it burns down around you at the same time.

Ritual Veil – Wolf In The Night Tape (Self Released)

Go to Ritual Veil’s bandcamp right now and order a copy of this tape if they have any left.  These things went fast.  Ritual Veil make you feel like the 80’s and 90’s just never ended I mean this in the best way, because listening to this, I’m transported back to the smoky blacklit clubs of my youth while still feeling like this tape is just so fresh and exciting.  You get the feeling this band is headed for big things!

King Woman – Created In The Image of Suffering (Relapse)

I was first introduced to the music of Kristina Esfandiari sometime in 2015 or 16 and have been obsessed ever since.  Forlorn, hypnotic, heavy and intense.  Created in the Image of Suffering doesn’t let up, even in it’s quieter moments.  Somewhere I have a photo of their live date in Olympia.  Kristina had just dove into the crowd, wearing a homemade shirt that says “LORENA BOBBIT”, seemingly a message to all the meathead metal bros, not ready to relinquish their stranglehold on the scene.

The Gift – Running around This Town (Time For Action)

I surprised myself with how much Oi!  I listened to this year.  A friend recommended this, and I grabbed it on a whim.  Oi/Punk/Power Pop from France.  This record is light and infectious from start to finish.  Perfect for listening to on those crushing days when you want to forget the world for a minute and focus on dressing sharp as hell and loving your friends.

Outreau – LP (Une Vie Pour Rien?/Crom Records)/Rixe – Bapteme Du Feu (La Vida Es En Un Mus)

More OI! from France, but this is what you listen to when you want to psych yourself up for throwing rocks at cops and setting Nazis on fire, looking good while doing it.  Music for hooligans, by hooligans.  Morte Aux Vaches

Clayface – Sister is Dead LP (Total Negativity)

Local to Olympia, I have seen this band a bunch, but didn’t manage to grab a copy of this LP until almost the end of the year.  This is the authentically tragic DIY Goth record Robert Smith wishes he could still make.  Deeply personal and haunting.

False – Hunger EP (Gilead Media)

I also surprised myself by how little Black Metal I listened to this year.  False was a big exception.  Crushing, weird, and unlike most of the other metal out there.  Best experienced in all their throat shredding live glory.

Hide – Black Flame EP (Joyful Noise)

Having heard Hide’s previous EP, Widdow and I went to see them at sparsely attended show with an odd mix of bands at an upscale bar in Seattle.  Indie rock, dream pop, and then HIDE in all their menacing, industrial glory.  For forty minutes the bar transformed into a strobe lit, black leather and lace monster.  Widdow and I were so inspired that upon returning to Olympia, we swore an oath on the shores of the Puget Sound with the full moon as a witness that we would start playing music together.  Maybe we’ll get around to it in 2018.

Limp Wrist – Facades LP  (Leguna Armada)

Can you name a better hardcore punk record by a band that is approaching their twentieth anniversary?  Me neither.  One of the best queer punk bands of all time.  If you want to fight about it, I will see you in the pit with all the other sweaty homos.

That’s it for now.  I’m sure I forgot a ton of records that I loved.  I’m sure I slept on a bunch of records that other people loved.  I also loved every single record that made it onto my mix.  I guess I just didn’t have it in me to write about every single record, especially considering the fact that I don’t actually know how to write about music.  Anyway, the sun is out and I need to take my dog for a walk before the Pacific Northwest is plunged back into gray washed out rainy waste for another four months.  Thanks for listening.  Thanks for reading.  ❤ 

For My Friends, Still Living.

A year ago tonight one of my oldest friends jumped off the rickety homemade second story of the Ghost Ship into the pitch-black first floor below her to escape the fire. None of the people she went to the party with that night made it out. She told me later the last thing she remembered was the lights going out and someone’s hand grabbing her shoulder right before she made her leap into the dark. Nobody jumped after her.  She came to on the street outside of the building.  She was likely one of the last people to make it out of the building.

I was sequestered on an island in the middle of the sound when the fire happened. A day later and back into cell service my phone blew up:

“She didn’t make it out…”

“Actually she’s missing.”

“Scratch that, she’s safe and in the hospital.”

I got out of my truck, stood on the ferry watching the waves lap below, and tried to get my breathing to go back to normal.  Out of the myriad of things I’m grateful for here, was that all of those text messages came at once. I was lucky enough to not have shared those sick and waiting with worry hours with the rest of my friends. A second later a text from HP came to tell me that one of her close friends didn’t make it out. He had escaped, heard people were still trapped, gone back inside, only to be in there when the roof collapsed.

I got home and HP came over so we could cry together for an hour in my room.

“I’m so sorry your friend is gone.”

“I’m so glad you’re friend is still here.”

Dawn still followed night and we kept breathing and moving on. My friend came to visit during the summer. I didn’t think seeing her would affect me the way it did. I sat in my truck; waiting with the summer breeze coming through the driver’s side window. And there she was, walking up Marion Street. That peculiar gait I didn’t even realize I had memorized for almost twenty years. That’s when it hit me for real, despite having been talking about it all winter: We were a split second from never seeing that walk again.

I cried quietly in my truck for a second, Making sur to compose myself before they made their way the rest of the way up the street. I got out of my truck and hugged my friends, maybe a little tighter than usual, but not so tight as to stifle them.

Out in the woods she confirmed what HP had heard about her friend. He had made it out, then run back into the flames when he heard people were still trapped inside. I told HP later and we held onto one another and cried again, just like in December.

I don’t know how to end this, or why exactly I’m writing it, other then to commemorate time passing and acknowledge the lives lost that night. It could have been any of us, seeing as how we have all lived in, played shows at, or gone to parties in places just like the Ghost Ship over the years.

I mean, once upon a time in Denver, some of my friends paid $750 a month to live in a rundown rattrap punk house also named The Ghost Ship. We named it as such, because of the narrow stairwell that connected the first and second stories. Walking upstairs, you felt like you were in the hold of a ship.  Had it never caught fire, the upstairs residents would have been trapped for sure.

I fell in love and got scabies there. Both from the same person. I have only ever regretted the latter.  The thought of paying $750 a month to live anywhere in Denver is virtually unfathomable a decade and a half later as late capitalism transforms all the cities we’ve loved into shopping centers for wealthy white people who can afford to live in them.

Right after the Ghost Ship fire, a different dear friend called it quits with the Bay Area for good.  Hoping to recover from a relentless depressive episode and catch his breath, he came here.  Shortly before making a break for it he cried into the phone with me one night:

“There’s no place left for us to go.”

I tried to stay quiet and just listen.  What could I say?  I know in my heart that he’s right.  All the poor people, all the POC, all the queers and the freaks get pushed out of the cities we helped to breathe life into and make “quirky” or what the fuck ever real estate developers look for when looking to make way for the next wave of speculation and get displacing.

So in the end, we make our own spaces.  We almost always have to fight like hell for them.  We hold those spaces close under constant threat.  We build and breathe and thrive.  We try to live in a malignant culture that does it’s best to take everything from us.  A year ago tonight, a whole lot of us died.

I don’t know what else to say.

Sleep well, friends.