If you are reading this, you have made it through this year, and it didn’t kill you, and dammit we’re all going to celebrate that fact. Of course, being a music podcast, we can only celebrate this occasion by doing what we do best—picking the albums of this year that helped us get here. So in this part two, we pick our most disappointing albums, our most surprising, and, yes, our Top 5 Albums of 2017. You’ll also hear even more returning guests revealing their own top fives, including a blast from our very distant past. So join us in salvaging the only things worth keeping from this blasted hellscape of a year, secure in the knowledge that we have survived, and that we may continue to survive, at least long enough to hear the next Guided By Voices album. Also: impersonations of dear friends, hardcore emotional realness, and the official sign of every song on Lorde’s Melodrama.
I have a confession to make, Deserteers, on this, the eve of our Beatles solo album episode: I have never listened to a John Lennon album. Due to a combination of apathy, youthful iconoclasm, and a deep-seated hatred of blue-eyed soul, I have managed to avoid his storied solo career for nearly three decades now. But that all changes today (well, technically a month ago, but play with me here), as, with the steady guidance of eccentric musicologist extraordinaire James Eidson, I venture to listen to his legendary album Plastic Ono Band for the first time. And what better way to first encounter a record than by drinking PBR and talking over it? Over the course of one full album play, we discuss John Lennon’s checkered past and the strange critical reputation of Plastic Ono Band in our classic aüdio vérité style, so you can hear every off-handed comment and argument about beer consumption. Also: terrible portraits of James Schuyler, the similarities between Dara Wier and Yoko Ono, and how Harry Nilsson is actually amazing, jeez James, come on.
Bet you didn’t think you’d be seeing us again so soon eh? Well this time we’re trying out something new here at the island. Don’t worry: the main series is going to continue being the same sprawling, discography devouring experience you all know and love. But albums are so much more than just an entry in a longer line: they’re independent experiences, a web of relationships, fandom, and artistry that’s worth exploring in its own right. So for our new series, which we’re calling “B-Sides”, we’ll be bringing in a guest to talk about one specific album—not just as its own work, but as a piece of art in their lives. What do these songs inspire in an individual? What does this album mean in your specific life? Music is always a personal thing, and this is our chance to really explore what that means.
For our first B-Side, we’re talking about Same Place the Fly Got Smashed (from our Guided by Voices Lo-Fi episode) with poet, musician, and raconteur James Eidson. In the process, we discuss our shared country origins, shifting perceptions of middle age, and, of course, fleshlights. It’s like My Dinner with Andre, only excessively drunk. Enjoy!
Order for the New Slave Trade