Features Music Year End 2019 Pass The Mic: Artists and labels on 2019

Year End 2019

Music: Pass The Mic: Artists and labels on 2019

Lamniformes (Ian Cory)

1. What are your top five albums that were released in 2019? (In order 1-5)

Once you pass a certain threshold of quality, its hard to establish a ranking hierarchy so bear in mind that this order will likely change by the next time someone asks me to make a list. For the sake of objectivity, I won't list any releases that I contributed to, but I encourage you to listen those as well. I also have a ton of albums that I haven't caught up with yet, so if your record isn't listed here, don't take it personally because there's a high probability that I haven't heard it yet.

  1. Love & Decay by Spotlights (This one has the most riffs that I wish I had written first)
  2. U.F.O.F. by Big Thief (Deceptively complex folk rock. Big Thief make difficult music sound effortless.)
  3. Forever, A Fast Life by Infinity Shred (The score to the future I wish we lived in.)
  4. Deserted by Gatecreeper (BIG RIFFS)
  5. i, i by Bon Iver (Vernon writes melodies you feel like you've known your whole life and surrounds them with sounds that you never imagined possible.)

2. What band did you discover in 2019 (can be a brand new band or an older band) that had an impact on your life? What made them significant?

I'm going to list a band and then a song, both of which had an impact on me in very different ways.

First, the band Spotlights. Hearing them for the first time this spring was invigorating. It was encouraging to hear another contemporary act breathing new life into the "post-metal" style. As I alluded to previously, Spotlight's music isn't all that dissimilar from the kind of music that I'd like to make myself. It makes me happy that I'm not the only one that wants to make music like this in the late 2010s. Even more encouraging was seeing them make new fans on their first full US tour this summer.

Second, the song "Telstar" by The Tornados. Despite showing up as the credits music to an episode of Mad Men, one of my favorite TV shows ever, this incredibly strange tune had never registered with me before. Then, while making my way through a playlist of songs that had reached number one on the American billboard charts, I heard "Telstar" and instantly fell in love with it. I felt like I had discovered a secret that had been deliberately hidden from me. That an instrumental tune this rickity and strange made it all the way to the top of the charts boggles the mind. Of course the composition itself is just astoundingly beautiful, but what really strikes me is the humble, home-made quality of the recording. Listening to it, I feel like I'm on the receiving end of a message beamed in from some planet lightyears away. Even if in reality the song was made just across the pond 57 years ago I find that sensation, of music reaching across space and time, incredibly moving.

3. How will you remember 2019? (In terms of music)

I'll remember music in 2019 mostly through my own participation in it. I toured in Gabby's World in January, played on a Bellows album that dropped in February, dropped my own album Sisyphean in March, toured with Bellows and Gabby's World for all of July, started a podcast where I interview musicians in August, wrote a song a day for the month of September, then joined Humeysha as a live drummer in October. Easily the busiest year I've had as a musician, but hopefully 2020 will top that.

As a listener, I'll remember 2019 as the year that I got off the treadmill of current releases and allowed myself to catch up on older music. That meant a lot of John Coltrane, Steely Dan, Sepultura, and vintage number one hits. When I did engage with newer music, I tried to do it socially, listening to albums recommended to me by friends or seeing bands live. Reconnecting with the New York hardcore scene live and in person has been especially rewarding. The last few years I had worked semi-professionally as a music critic, which required me to listen a ton of music, most of it bad, and gave me almost no time to return to the releases I enjoyed. 2019 was the first year in a few years where I had complete freedom to listen at my own pace, which did wonders for my enjoyment of music overall.

4. What can we look forward to from you in 2020?

I will try to under-promise and over-deliver here. The plan is Lamniformes live shows, appearances on stage with Humeysha, gigs as needed with Gabby's World, Bellows, and Small Wonder, plenty more issues of my newsletter, and episodes of my podcast Lamniformes Radio. There may be some records coming from some of those bands as well, but to my knowledge nothing is locked in quite yet.

5. What records are you looking forward to most in 2020?

The most exciting records will be the ones that I don't see coming. I'm also excited for the music that my friends and collaborators are working on, and I hope to help them complete that work however I can. I also guess that we're due for another Kendrick Lamar album sometime soon, but you can't rush genius.

6. What is your favorite way to pass time while on tour? Any apps, podcasts, etc you're into?

I'm lucky to have bandmates that I'm also close friends with, so a great deal of time gets eaten up by conversation. If we run short of subjects, the latest episodes of The Daily or Reply All are usually a good spark to get us going for another hour. When I needed alone time, I'd throw on headphones and listen to NBA podcasts like The Lowe Post, Cookies, No Dunks, and The Full 48. If you don't get motion sickness, I'd highly recommend reading on the road. Brian Philip's Impossible Owls was a crucial tool for surviving the long drives through the American West this summer.

Photo by Richard Gin

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Words by the SPB team on Dec. 17, 2019, 4:53 a.m.

Main photo (The Fourthsin @ Traffic) by Flavia

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