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2018 Albums of the Year: Bodega – Endless Scroll

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The Telescope presents the top albums of 2018. We gathered best-of lists from contributors, crunched some numbers and came up with a list of records that unanimously wowed us this year.

Behold the malaise of modernity in 1080p: stroller protests, masturbation and Leonardo DiCaprio (see above) rolled into a tension bomb with a short fuse.

This third Bodega—at least, after well-known Scottish and Canadian incarnations—was birthed in Brooklyn, from the short-lived Bodega Bay, and arrives fully formed for their debut—these aren’t new kids on the block.

Endless Scroll (note the double meaning) is a critique of everyday life that grieves our inability to escape computers and the Internet and lingers on mundane happenings as compensation. Nods to post-punk greats (Wire, etc.) are obvious, but modern showboats like The Two Koreas come to mind as well.

Bodega succeed because they never take themselves too seriously. They’re endlessly cool, and look like they could probably kick your ass, too.

-Scott Bryson

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2018 Albums of the Year: IDLES – Joy as an Act of Resistance 

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The Telescope presents the top albums of 2018. We gathered best-of lists from contributors, crunched some numbers and came up with a list of records that unanimously wowed us this year.

“My blood brother is an immigrant
A beautiful immigrant
My blood brother’s Freddie Mercury
A Nigerian mother of three
He’s made of bones, he’s made of blood
He’s made of flesh, he’s made of love
He’s made of you, he’s made of me
Unity”

What a positive, non-judgmental message filled with love and unity. In fact, IDLES entire second album, Joy as an Act of Resistance is filled with messages of inclusivity and love, in case that isn’t obvious by its title. But if you think this powerful message is delivered using sad folky acoustic guitars, think again.

Singer Joe Talbot has said time and time again that IDLES are not a punk band. Sure, okay, but with the aggressive power behind the music and Talbot singing like someone who would easily headbutt you and then spit on the floor at a pub if you ever got in his way, I can understand the label’s origin.

The aggression doesn’t stop with the band’s music – their live show is just as raw and angry. I was fortunate enough to see IDLES twice in 2018, and their combative stance was just as apparent. That doesn’t mean the audience didn’t feel any love; at my first show, the band led the crowd in a spontaneous, acapella version of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (note – this was at an outdoor show in March in Austin) and at my second IDLES experience, the entire audience sang the chorus to Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful”. To quote Talbot after my first singalong: “That was a fucking miracle.”

Joy as an Act of Resistance was released August 31, 2018, and if you’re looking to add some aggressive positivity into your life, as well as a surprising cover of  Solomon Burke’s “Cry to Me”, this just may be the album for you.

-Michelle Farres

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2016 Albums of the Year: Cymbals Eat Guitars – Pretty Years

cymbals-eat-guitars-pretty-years

The Telescope presents: the top albums of 2016. We gathered best-of lists from staff and contributors, crunched some numbers and came up with a list of records that unanimously wowed us this year.

The prevalent trajectory for modern American rock bands is an easy one to trace: first, a celebrated debut. Next, a flop of a sophomore record, or at best, a carbon copy of the debut. Third album, the flop, if it hasn’t happened already.

Cymbals Eat Guitars managed to forge a different path. Each of their four albums improves upon the one before, when it seemed a sure bet that those prior records represented the pinnacle of the New York band’s abilities.

Joseph D’Agostino, singer, is the group’s only constant; he’s been there since 2009’s Why There Are Mountains, watching a cast of nine other players rotate around him. You can’t understand half of what he’s saying, and that’s the best sort of album to get involved with. It may take years to fully crack this one, if that’s even possible [they kindly provide us with lyrics in the video for “4th of July, Philadelphia (SANDY),” above].

Just when you think D’Agostino is singing about a relationship, you catch the words “event horizon” for the first time and have to stop and wonder if he’s on about a black hole instead (or maybe the two are the same thing in his mind?). It wouldn’t be a surprising shift in subject matter; he also dives into “infinite repeat” (perhaps eternal recurrence?) and ponders the possibility of many selves across the multiverse (again, see the video above).

What does come through clearly, is that Pretty Years is about capturing memories—those few we’re each allotted that are so wild they only grow in stature as the years pass (again, see video).

-Scott Bryson

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Division Of Laura Lee – “Need To Get Some”

The first song off the first album (Black City) from this Swedish quartet.

Parking garage party! Live band. Dancing. Giant stuffed animals with evil eyes providing spa treatments and stalking old ladies. Maybe less of a party, more of a snare—lure the kids in with promises of sick jams and mud masks.

Unbeknownst to us (’til now), Division Of Laura Lee released their fourth album, Tree, in 2013. Check out “Cabin Jam” from the new record, below.

-Scott Bryson

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Shudder To Think – “Red House”

You know when a song comes up on shuffle and your first reaction is “Holy shit! I love this song”? That just happened.

From 50,000 BC, Shudder To Think’s last album before breaking up in 1998, “Red House” is a song that takes you back right from it’s unmistakable opening. I’m suddenly chain-smoking and playing Euchre in my university pub, but nostalgia’s very personal – you may end up elsewhere.

-Michelle Farres

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Citizen Kay – “Life Gives You Lemons”

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade…or dip, as the case may be.

This video can easily be considered as the epitome of positivity. Are things getting you down? Is life not going the way you planned? If your answer is “yes” to both of these questions, then Citizen Kay has the answer: hit the grocery store and make guacamole.

Fact: a mean guacamole cures all.

You can find “Life Gives You Lemons” on With the People, released October 2015 via Asphalt Records.

-Michelle Farres

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The Goon Sax – “Boyfriend”

Some of you may have been lamenting over your single status this past Sunday while your partnered friends celebrated Valentine’s Day with unnecessary flowers, candy, and dinner. I certainly hope that wasn’t the case (such a waste of a day), but, if you were in fact feeling a little down, Aussie teen trio The Goon Sax know how you feel.

It’s a sentiment that’s plagued adolescents since the beginning of time (ok, maybe not that far back, but definitely since the beginning of dating), “If only I had a boyfriend, I’d be so sweet to him.” Most teens just journal those feelings, but the Brisbane band have taken things one step further and set those musings to music. Now everyone young and old can sing about how well they would treat their imaginary boyfriend. You don’t need to be in high school to relate.

The Goon Sax’s debut Up To Anything is scheduled for release next month via Chapter Music.

-Michelle Farres

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