The Year in Bitch - 2014 - Articles - Soundblab

The Year in Bitch - 2014

by paul_guyet Rating: Release Date:

How the fuck is the year almost over?
We're all gonna fuckin' die.

Biggest Surprises
Since it's important to be positive, let's just get that out of the way first.

Aphex Twin - Syro
The biggest surprise for me this year was, within the span of just about a month, the announcement, reemergence and release of the 'new' Aphex Twin album, Syro. He could have just done an interview or posted to his Facebook page, but fuck that, this is Richard D James, Electro-Jizz God King.

The marketing campaign for Syro utilized a blimp, the AT logo spraypainted all over New York City, and a press release that looked as if it were run three times through Google Translate. That is how you announce something. That is how you surprise people.

Thom Yorke - Tomorrow's Modern Boxes
Another fantastic surprise was the out-of-nowhere release of Thom Yorke's stellar Tomorrow's Modern Boxes, a direct follow-up to his 2006 solo effort, The Eraser. Yorke said the whole point of the release was to see if people could "get their heads around" using BitTorrent's "pay-gate" system for music delivery. Whether or not it worked, the resulting album feels a lot less like an experiment than I was expecting; it's rich, varied, and stands up after multiple listens.

Maxi Bacon - Maci Baxon
The discovery of the existence of Maxi Bacon. But more on that later.

Tori Amos - Unrepentant Geraldines
Finally, the most pleasant surprise, which wasn't, technically speaking, a surprise, was how much I enjoyed the new Tori Amos album, Unrepentant Geraldines. I've been a fan of her and her fire for years, but during the mid-2000's until the beginning of this decade, when she started recording with a full orchestra and released the epic, complex tapestry that is Night of Hunters, I've felt indifferent towards her work.

Her decision to start working with an orchestra reinvigorated her music and gave it new dimension, so, when she announced that her newest album would be a return to tradition recording, I became very worried. As it turned out, I had no reason to be; Geraldines might be her best album in 15 years.

Nothing else surprised me this year.

2014 LIVE
I saw so many fucking shows this year (for me). This has taught me one thing: I'm getting too old/bored/fed up with showing up hours early and listening to assholes to do GA anymore. Might be time to start looking into paying people to stand in line for me. Because, I, too, am an asshole. And a whiny one at that.

I had the good fortune to see three of my five favorite bands live this year: BeckEels and Nine Inch Nails, as well as St. VincentMother FeatherTV on the RadioDamon Albarn and Tori Amos

I only usually see bands with whose music I am intimately familiar. Mainly because, if I haven't heard the song before, hearing it for the first time live is silly, as no PA I have ever encountered is good enough for a neophyte to make out the lyrics. Also, I'm too persnickety to just 'enjoy the music', so I end up standing there the whole time wishing I knew what the fuck the people on the stage were trying to tell me.

This factor was the downfall of both TV on the Radio and Damon Albarn. Both shows were tremendous, but more often than not, I was just waiting for the part of the song that I knew and/or hoping I'd be better acquainted with whatever was coming next.

Tori was... a force of nature. This had been the first time I'd seen her in about 15 years and, aside from not being savvy to the majority of the set, I loved it; it was like going to a place of worship and finding that your deity of choice just happened to be playing piano that night. Her fans though... I'm a firm believer that the only problem with the place I live, and, indeed, where everyone lives are the people living there.

I fucking hate people and go out of my way to not be counted among them, hence why I always travel with huge headphones clamping the sides of my face. Tori may love her fans, but the twats to the left, texting and tweeting how awesome it was to see Tori Amos live! OMG! LOLLERSKATES! ROFLPUKE! and the massive king cunt to my right who was singing in broken English, louder than Tori's amplified voice along with every song he knew and discussing... Christ knows what, I don't speak Catalan, during those that he did not... Those 'people' deserved maiming, at the very least. 

I told you I was too old for things.

I've seen Eels almost 10 times and every time has been different, with its own highs and lows. While this was a great show, rife with songs I'd never heard performed live, I couldn't help but feel like something was missing and, at this moment, I'm having trouble really recalling it to memory.

This probably has more to do with this year's The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett than anything else. More on that later. I do recall that the opening, E coming out and singing 'When You Wish Upon a Star', almost immediately brought me to tears. So at least that's still happening.

Out of these, the best live experience comes down to a tie between St. Vincent (who I had never seen live* but will always see live from this point on) and Beck, who I have seen a handful of times. St. Vincent's Digital Witness tour was so perfectly rehearsed and choreographed, and Annie Clark's presence so vastly different throughout its 90-minute span that I can't imagine anyone seeing this show and not adding it to the top of their list. It was actually awe-inspiring.

But Beck... come on... he's the second funkiest white man alive! Plus, all of the Morning Phase material sounded fantastic and he played both 'Sexx Laws' and 'Debra'! Shit, this is tough...

You know what? Fuck it, my favorite live experience this year goes to Mother Feather, whom I saw on my birthday with my best friend, at the Bowery Ballroom. The blistering pop-cock-rock that exploded on my face that night has yet to be recreated by either Annie Clark or Beck Hansen.
Way to go, ladies.

Biggest Disappointments
Most of my disappointments this year have to do with Trent Reznor. Now, before I start venting my spleen, there's something you should know: Trent Reznor might be my favorite artist, so, when I bitch the hardest about him, it's because I know he's capable of so much more. Like a father, I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed.

That said, I was genuinely fucking livid after my Nine Inch Nails touring experience this year. I had spent upwards of $400 (merch, tickets, transportation, etc) to see NIN twice in a row, as Reznor has always tried to keep live shows varied from night to night, because, for as humble as he appears to be, he is aware of how slavishly dedicated a lot of his fans are.

Through some strange twist of fuck, both shows were identical. This, on its own, would have been a cockslap, but, some time soon after that second identical show ground to a close, a picture of that evening's original set list appeared with several different songs. What happened? No one knows. All we have is the anger.

Then, there's the Gone Girl score that Reznor and Atticus Ross released earlier this year. As I've spewed piss about this for months already, I'll cut to the chase: I believe that Reznor should have either done that final leg of his tour or worked on this score. I think, by committing himself to both, both were of a lower quality than they could have and should have been. Hey, people do it all the time, and, no matter how many Nine Inch Nails posters I have on my walls, Trent Reznor is still a person.

And, our last stop on the Trent Reznor 2014 Monorail of Sadness: the deluxe reissue of The Fragile... or, rather, the motherfucking, ballshitting continued lack thereof. This year was the 15th anniversary of Nine Inch Nails' The Fragile, the unequalled, two-disc opus which featured some of their most disparate and fascinating music to date, and the reissue, which Reznor has been teasing for almost 10 fucking years, was nowhere to be seen. In my mind, now addled with desire and time, this reissue (replete with a 5.1 mix, unreleased music, and a blowjob machine**) will not only reinvigorate my love for this album and this band, but it will also cure cancer.

Who's overreacting? Fuck you.

On to Eels. While I wouldn't call The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett a disappointment exactly, the fact that it paled in comparison (for me, always for me) to last year's Wonderful, Glorious combined with the fact that Damon Albarn dropped his cold and lonely gem, Everyday Robots around the same time... Well, it just got overshadowed.

There's some genuinely great stuff on there, and, of course, I'm going to revisit it, but, just as with Hombre Lobo, nothing was going to live up to the pure, tear streaked brilliance of Blinking Lights and Other Revelations. No worries though, we'll see you soon, E. 

The Bests! Yeah, The Bests!
Okay, in retrospect, maybe crafting a 2000-plus-word summation of my personal musical experiences in 2014 was a bit presumptuous. You don't know who I am and, therefore, why would you give even the slightest fuck about my opinion of stuff? Why am I even writing this? Do you know how many tweets 2000 words is? Fuck! So, I'm just going to get right to it. 

I was going to nominate*** Beck's Morning Phase as my favorite album of the year, but it's going to have to be St. Vincent's self-titled release. While Morning Phase is an absolutely amazing second movement to the symphony he started over a decade ago with Sea Change, it's nothing new, just an evolution (a brilliant and glimmering evolution that emcompasses everything right about music), whereas Clark's St. Vincent just defies description. If you haven't heard it, you're missing out on what makes music exciting and vital.

Along with those two, I'm going to toss out Damon Albarn's solo debut, Everyday Robots, Yorke's Tomorrow's Modern BoxesTV on the Radio's Seeds (although I've only had that for a month or so) and... Maxi Bacon's Maci Baxon.

I've been a fan of Albarn, St. Vincent, Beck and TV on the Radio long enough to know what to expect, in a general sense. All of those artists are capable of surprising me, but in a predictable way, if you dig.

Beck is going to have some super-funk, or, depending on the type of hat he's wearing at the moment, some soulful, bluesey folk, perhaps accompanied by gorgeous strings, conducted by his father. Albarn is going to have something doleful or faux-doleful, most likely underscored by some African beats. St. Vincent is going to play her blizzed-out styrofoam guitar and sing with barely restrained chaos and panic in her voice.

But Maxi Bacon...these guys...surprised me. I did not know this sort of thing even existed. Do I sound like a 13-year-old boy who has just discovered masturbation? Maybe. But it doesn't change how awesome orgasms are.  


Hopes & Fears for 2015
What do you fucking think? I want the goddamn Fragile reissue. You fuck.

And there you have it.
Sorry to have bothered you.
Have a nice day.

Paul Guyet is an actor and writer living in New York City. He's violently opinionated and has a penchant for hyperbole, which makes him perfect for music journalism. He also has an affinity for talking about himself in the third person. He has a podcast, a website and a twitter, but he doesn't think he's better than you.

* I saw her with David Byrne when they toured for Love This Giant, but that doesn't count.

** Blowjob machine not yet confirmed.

*** Oooh, nominate! Look at me, I'm Baron Von Fancyman, nominating folks for things!

Comments (7)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I'll be reading this in more detail but firstly the word Cockslap jumped out at me and is now my favourite word. It's up there with Dicksplash.

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Happy to add to the lexicon, Bob.

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Good on you for nominating Beck. He's still churning out good stuff.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Didn't know about Amos' new album. Stopped caring after Beekeper, gave up after Posse. Ignored everything since.

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This is a good one to come back to.

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This is the best title for an article ever. Thank you, Paul.

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Great banner pic, amazing opening. Just perfect. Bitch on, my friend.

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