Suggested Listening ’19: Andrew Lampela< < Back to
Every year WOUB Culture spotlights what music-centric folks in the region have been listening to all year round right in time for the holidays in our annual best-of-the-year features.
Welp, there goes another year. All in all, 2019 wasn’t so bad, if you just ignored the news. Oh, and social media. And the economy. And the handful of friends that regularly wake up hungover with food in their hair, late for their job but cocked and ready to lecture anyone in earshot on their deep understanding of constitutional law between bong hits. Other than that, not so bad. Personally, my year dealt quite a bit with understanding my own mental health. So some ups and downs. Middle age is a weird one, let me tell you. I’ve got nothing to gripe about though. I’ve got a solid job with a great bunch of dudes, I’m in a couple bands with some other great dudes, and most importantly, a wonderful girlfriend with unfathomable patience that I probably don’t deserve. She’s the best!
I leaned pretty heavily on a very small number of albums this past year, so I listened to the least amount of new music in my adult life. Conversely, I started writing about music again (at offshelf.net, go check it!), mostly about metal, so I absolutely listened to more new metal than I have in decades. Past years have seen my list littered with older music, but I engaged with enough quality stuff this year that I’ll leave out the enormous R.E.M. and Slade benders I’ve been on or the fact that Jawbreaker’s 24 Hour Revenge was my most played album by miles. Not that anyone cares, but here we go!
William Basinski – On Time Out Of Time (Temporary Resident)
If all you know about Basinski is his Disintegration Loops, that’s perfectly fine. They’re great! However, you’re missing out on one of the best discographies going. I’m fully aware that forty minute drone pieces aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but Basinski creates some truly beautiful music. This album was the soundtrack to most of those lows I mentioned above, the sound of my brain imploding in real time, softly and with a fantastic soundtrack. Be sure to check out the vinyl, as well, for a slightly different mix.
Julia Kent – Temporal (Leaf)
Temporal was one of the first albums to really grab me this year, way back in January, and has been in constant rotation ever since. “Last Hour Story,” “Through The Window” and “Crepuscolo” were a much needed contrast to the Basinski, all very grounding and centering. This is a beautiful, stately, masterful album, one that still carries the emotional punch on the hundredth listen that it did on the first. Be sure to check out her entire catalog, because wow.
Like I said, I started writing about music again this year, even scoring my own monthly metal column. It seemed pretty daunting, mostly because I hadn’t been listening to much metal at all over the last few years. Burnt out? Bored? Probably both. After 35 years of metal-head life, it all started to blend to me. I’m pretty glad Dave cajoled me into writing about metal, though, because 2019 was a massive year for the genre in my ears. Not that it was difficult to narrow down my top picks. These two albums got massive play from me. It was a fantastic year for death metal, and Tomb Mold released a modern masterpiece. Brilliant from start to finish. Crypt Sermon hit me right in the ’80s doom feels with powerhouse vocals and riffs galore (plus some awesome drumming!). Two of the best from a pretty stacked year.
75 Dollar Bill – I Was Real (Thin Wrist)/Dead Neanderthals w/Scott Hedrick – Ghosts (UTech)
It’s really fun to watch your friends do cool stuff. Full disclosure, I’ve known Scotty for a little while now, and would like to think we’ll be turning each other on to weird shit for many years to come. He hipped me (and many others around here) to 75 Dollar Bill a handful of years ago, and they’ve become one of my favorites. I Was Real finds them expanding beyond their two-piece roots and creating a blissfully droned out world of Afro-Psych-Noise perfection, one that gets better with each listen. Scotty’s collab with Free-Jazz monsters Dead Neanderthals is definitely listening to a friend do cool stuff. Two tracks full of tension, unease, and explosive release, Ghosts shows another completely different side to everyone’s favorite shredder. I hope these guys all keep going with this collaboration, because this is wonderful stuff.
Sargent House (as a label) – There were quite a few labels this year that put out solid runs of goodness. 20 Buck Spin had a great year with death metal. Gilead Media hit me with some amazing black metal. Dark Descent had some winners with Crypt Sermon and Oath Of Cruelty. However, Sargent House really crushed it this year. I mean, when your 2019 releases include Russian Circles, Chelsea Wolfe, Earth, Brutus, Lingua Ignota, and Helm’s Alee…woof. What a run. Those are all great records, so check them all out, and be sure to keep your eyes on Sargent House. Anything by Emma Ruth Rundle in 2020 is reason enough to pay attention to Sargent House. This is how to run a label.
John Luther Adams w/Seattle Symphony Orchestra – Become Desert
Ah, the beauty of this time of year. I love list season. It gives me the opportunity to catch up, because let’s face it, there is way too much music out there for one pair of ears. Case in point, Become Desert is a late entry in my own list because I had no clue. One deep, singular piece full of drone and percussion, this hits me just right. I’ve been playing this pretty continuously the last couple weeks, enough that it definitely edged its way into my top ten.
Little Professor book store – As long as I keep getting asked to do this list, I’m going to keep putting Little Professor on it. One of my favorite spots in Athens. I’m pretty sure I made it through 2019 without buying a book anywhere else. Sure, I’m a dork and prefer tangible paper books. Don’t we all spend too much time staring at screens already? I split my time between having them order my every whim and just randomly picking covers. For the last several years, I’ve lined my deep-dive listening and love of a good music biography up perfectly, with a little help from my favorite bookstore. I’ve been shopping here for 30 or so years, no stopping now!
Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster and Spencer Thomas Live at Casa, September 16, 2019
I’ve been a huge JPKS fan for a long time now, so I try my best to get out and see him anytime he rolls through town, whether a Clouston-kitchen show or a full blown rock event. He’s a great dude that makes great music. This particular tour involved five guys being two different bands, and was a terrific reminder of how awesomely cathartic music can be. First up was Spencer Thomas, backed by the other four, playing through songs from his excellent new album Hangin’ Tough, followed by JPKS backed by the other four, playing songs from his excellent new album Take Heart, Take Care. Throw in a devastatingly effective Petty cover, and this show really nailed me. The power of live music is no joke, folks. Two great songwriters, throwing down for a quarter full bar. One of the best shows I saw this year.
I almost always get something out of interviewing an artist. A little tidbit that makes a song pop even harder. Greg Anderson being extremely humble and not scary at all and a fantastic conversationalist. Or Bill Mackay. I was familiar with Mackay’s work and had seen several of his sets at the Nelsonville Music Fest, and his two newest albums are pretty fantastic, but his openness to discussing the process and the genuine joy that comes through his words really set this interview apart. His enthusiasm is contagious, and jump-started my own creative urges. I spent the week after our conversation hammering out some solo work, and if that isn’t the highest praise, I don’t know what is. Fantastic music, fantastic dude.
There were a ton of other things that could easily have made this list. Those lovable goofs in Horseburner put out a toweringly crushing album. Cave In released a gut punch this year, containing their final songs with bassist Caleb Scofield’s contributions and one of their absolute best albums. Creeping Death put out a rager, reminding me that death metal can be both brutal and fun as hell. Fennesz remains Fennesz, and I’ll listen to anything he does. Lo Pan took their sound to some new places and released a total banger. Howling Giant put out what ostensibly sounded like a stoner rock record, but grew into some weird psych maelstrom that I couldn’t stop listening to. And so on…
Other artists worth a listen… Joan Shelley, Dysrhythmia, Tyler Childers, Witch Vomit, Bill Orcutt, High Command, Weyes Blood, Pelican, Sharon Van Etten, Purple Mountains, Angel Olsen, Nick Cave, Gatecreeper, Lindstrøm, Spirit Adrift, Fetid, Messthetics. Support your local scene! Enjoy live music!