Faster and faster

I don’t think I wrote about it here on the site because everything was happening so quickly, but my first published work came out this week. There’s a single page backup comic in issue 5 of Pretty Deadly. It’s written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated and lettered by Xylon Otterburn, and colored by, well, yours truly.
 

So there’s my name in the back of one of my favorite comics currently coming out. How crazy is that? I can’t believe it. Xylon’s a good friend, and he’s the one who brought me in on this. We’d chatted before about working together, but I don’t think either of us imagined it being something as big as this. More people will see that backup this month than will have ever even glanced at Other Sleep or any of my other work. That’s…it’s kind of staggering.

And hopefully it’s just the beginning.
 

Koku Manga was this past weekend, and well…it didn’t go so good. I knew it wouldn’t quite compare to the glory that was ETSUcon, but still. Maybe two anime conventions in Johnson City in the same month is just way too close? Not to mention the big draw for the show, the costume contest, having a $25 entry fee, which coupled with the ticket price meant you were already spending 40-50 dollars before even stepping into the smallish dealer room and even smaller artist room (which even fewer people came through). Sales didn’t go too well for me, at all.

It wasn’t a total downer, though. I had my first ever panel on Saturday, called the Creative Process of Comics. Moderated by good friend Big Daddy Voodoo, we discussed my work and my somewhat counterintuitive process for making comics, breaking things down step by step. We also kept getting sidetracked and talking about kaiju movies, which is what happens when you put BDV and I in a room together. About a dozen people showed up for this thing, which was pretty awesome, and a few of them asked some really good questions too after my dumb presentation which was missing a slide! I got a nice round of applause after bemoaning the lack of diversity in American comics, which came as a bit of a surprise. Afterwards, some of them came up to chat, shake my hand, and even a couple took my picture! I could get used to that, you know.
 

I want to do something like this again, maybe at the next ETSUcon? I think there was a panel this year about making web comics, so this might be too similar? Who knows?

Burst Reach 4 is chugging along. I’m doing an 8-page comic about a girl and her doppelganger at the end of the world that’s largely done in charcoal, with some watercolor washes here and there for good measure. It’s driving me crazy, but I’m nearly done with it. And I think the way it looks is quite worth the messy hassle.
 

I’ve also been working on some other stuff, and talking with people about doing other stuff. Exciting times, these are. Planning ahead on how I want to tackle HeroesCon this year, too. I’ll be tabling by myself this go around, which is a little scary, but I also want to try and be more sociable too, which even more scary. Meeting people and making friends is incredibly important in art and comics, yeah? I need to get better at that, I really do.

So to recap the first quarter of 2014: Art show, my own panel at a con, and my first published work. Not too shabby. Let’s see if I can keep this momentum going, yes?

[Brett]

"You do the creepy alien thing really well"

So the second annual ETSUcon may be the best con experience I’ve ever had.

Not just because I got to play a game called Kung Food on an old Atari Lynx (which I’d never seen before).

Not just because I met Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario himself, and got him to sign my copy of Super Mario Galaxy 2.
 

Not just because I bought a HUGE COLOSSAL stack of obscure 90’s sci-fi manga (which I’ve written about my love for in the past) for criminally small amount of money.
 

Though those are all extraordinarily good reasons.

It’s a little bit because I got to see a good number of friends that I haven’t gotten to see since, well, the last ETSUcon, maybe. It’s a little bit because one of the con’s organizers, on the morning of the second day, walked through the dealer room with a huge tray of pastries, thanking us for coming, and that muffin I had was delicious. It’s because good-looking men and women are willing to pay money to allow me to turn them into strange mutant beasts and are quite thrilled when I put an extra fanged mouth on their forehead. Because I got to watch people flip through Other Sleep and tell me about their own bizarre dreams. Because a girl told me I’m good at “the creepy alien thing,” and another guy  compared me favorably to Moebius, leading me to throw my arms up and shout “I’VE MADE IT!”
 

It’s also because I bought a couple packs of Hi-Chew candy and a Godzilla/X-Files crossover shirt just as I was about to head out the door.

The entire weekend was a cheerful blur of people and sketches. The last hour of the con, Sunday evening, I was doing so many sketches for people that I’d lost track of time and lost count of mutants. I looked up at one point to find the guy next to me had left, and so had many of the other vendors, while I was still there sketching away and chattering about making comics.
 

I’m doing at least four or five more cons this year, including Koku Manga at the end of the month. If those are even half as great as ETSUcon was, then it’s going to be a good year.

In other news, I had to take down my art show today. Curse you February, for being such a short month! It was good though, and going through my guestbook reading all the encouraging comments from people felt great. I’m glad people enjoyed my show, and hope the next show in the Panoramic gallery goes well.

And it’s not like I may never have an art show anywhere ever again, right? This is just the beginning, I’m not stopping.

I am currently slowing down a little and trying to relax a bit right now, I’m still woozy from coming off of Other Sleep, but I have to keep moving, keep improving. Keep getting better, keep meeting people.

[Brett]

FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT

So I’ve been keeping busy lately, or at least trying to.

This weekend is ETSUcon, and even though it’s only Wednesday, I’ve already got everything prepared for both days, all gathered together and packed up. I’ve gone from simply doing mutant portraits to something more along the lines of demon monster mutant things. As an example for my sign, I drew my girlfriend as if she were a citizen of Night Vale. I hope I get to do lots of these, they’re so much fun.
I already showed you guys the BOSS RUSH poster I’ll be selling this year, and on top of that I recently finished this new one, FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT:

All of these characters are for my next big comics project I keep teasing about. I’m still in the process of  researching, writing, and designing things, figuring out how I’m going to release it, all of that. It’ll be a few more months before I get to show you anything else, probably. I’m taking more time with it than I did with Other Sleep, as I REALLY want to make sure I’m getting this right…

After ETSUcon, I have to go back to the William King Museum to take down my show, Something Ugly Found Adrift. I’m sad about that, the month is over far too soon. The opening reception went extremely well, I saw some old friends I hadn’t seen in a while, met new people, and sold a good chunk of copies of the trade too.

The vastly superior Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find show will be up until late June, of course. I highly recommend checking it out as many times as you can.

Progress on Burst Reach 4 is coming along slowly but surely, the plan being to have it done and printed in time for this year’s Heroes Con. Here’s a test page I threw together for another short story that’ll be in it, about a girl meeting her doppelganger.

Okay, yeah, technically this is the second girl-meets-doppelganger story I’ve done, but Black Hole Ghost is a few years old at this point and I cringe any time I look at it. This story has a different outcome anyway.

I’m also contemplating a small print run of Shouting at the Void…We’ll see.

I think that’s all I have to talk about right now. I’ll leave you with a song I’m currently obsessed with: Spiral Serpent Strike by Daikaiju. Kind of obsessed with these guys lately.

There is no end

This is quite an exciting time for me right now.
Last week, I received a package: a 40 pound box containing 40 copies of Other Sleep! The whole thing, all 9 chapters, contained in one reasonably sized book. My work in physical form. It’s real.

Soon as I figure out the cost of shipping, I’ll be putting it up on my Big Cartel page for folks to order.
Yesterday, I hung my show, Something Ugly Found Adrift, at the William King Museum’s Panoramic gallery. 26 pieces, the original art and full color prints of pages from Other Sleep, are on display until March 1. It was originally only going to be 10 or 15 pieces. Then it went to 20 or 25. Then 30. Back to 25. Then to 28, down to 26 when I finally got to hanging. Math is hard.

The reception is this Thursday night at 6:30, and it will also be for two other shows: There/Here and Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find. After I finished hanging my show yesterday, I went downstairs to the Heroes show and got to look around by myself. It’s wonderful. Beautiful. Original Steve Ditko Spider-man pages. A Frank Miller/Klaus Janson Spidey page. There’s a Captain America cover with Deathlok on it by Mike Zeck and John Beatty that I’m in love with. An original Wally Wood page. An original Frazetta comic strip! I knew, this being from Shelton Drum’s personal collection, that it’d be a great show, but I underestimated just what an experience it’d be to see all that brilliant work up close, in person. I may have wept a little.

My work is nothing compared to that show, but it still thrills me to no end that my own little comic is being displayed at the same time, in the same building as guys like James Jean, Joe Kubert, and so many others.

As far as current stuff goes? I’m gearing up for ETSUCon and Koku Manga in March. I’ll have two new posters ready by then. Here’s the first, a top-down shooter tribute called BOSS RUSH:
Work on Burst Reach 4 has officially started. The first story has quite a heavy videogame influence on it.
And I’m currently in a deep brainstorming/research phase on my next webcomic, about a young female boxer who fights monsters. She’s…not in a realistic boxing stance in this sketch at all. Please ignore that.
 

Finally, I purchased a table for this year’s Heroes Con! No image to accompany that, sorry.

Busy busy year, this 2014. Gotta keep moving, gotta keep making things happen, right?

"Do you often contemplate the complexity of life?"

One of my little resolutions for 2014, silly as it may be, is to watch at least one movie I haven’t seen before every week and write about it. Weekly blog posts about one movie are a little silly or obnoxious I feel, but a monthly thing is much more reasonable. I watched six movies in January, and yes, I know the month isn't over yet, shut up. Here they are:

Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (1991) - An infamous one, I think I first heard of/read about this online when I was back in high school on one of those websites like Stomp Tokyo or the Bad Movie Report. Having finally sat down to watch it on Netflix, I have two thoughts about it. First, I think over all those years of reading people talking about it online, the movie was hyped up a little too much for me, so I was a bit let down in the end. Second, I must really be turning into an old softy because this movie really grossed me out. Especially the warden guy with the false eye full of mints. All that super-cheap gore that 5 years ago I don’t think I would have even blinked at and now it kind of repulses me? Weird. Also, I totally didn't realize this was made in 91, I thought it was earlier.

Monty Python’s the Meaning of Life (1983) - I had this tendency where if Monty Python was ever brought up in conversation I’d be enthusiastic and say I love it, then turn around and watch an episode and just be put off. I remember back in high school when the Holy Grail mysteriously became popular and everyone was quoting it, and I’d quote right along and then when I actually watched an old VHS copy I was, yep, not into it at all. Life of Brian? Same thing. So I don’t know what I was expecting with the Meaning of Life. I like the opening song, but again, I was just too frequently grossed out and then concerned for myself about being grossed out. I just…I don’t find men dressed as women all that funny anymore, you know? I guess Python just really isn't my thing. Also, the restaurant scene? Didn’t they just straight up rip that off for the commercial for Yoshi’s Island? I should look into that. I remember that commercial terrifying me as a child.

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012) - There were a number of people going on about how this was the best action movie of the year when it came out, and others praising it for how weird it was, making frequent comparisons to David Lynch. Despite knowing little to nothing about the Universal Soldier movies, I was definitely interested. I was not let down at all. It’s such a strange, brutal thing, more of a horror movie than an action movie. The music and cinematography make your stomach churn well before the violence does, beautifully so. The action is shot extraordinarily well, better than anything I’ve seen in theaters recently, and the weird Philip K. Dick plot involving shady government agents, clones, and false memories just hits all the right notes for me. So damn good. The world needs more movies like this one.

Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009) - This and Day of Reckoning were both directed by John Hyams, and between them both I’m now a big fan of his. This one is tied more to the previous Universal Soldier movies than Day of Reckoning was, but you can still follow it easily without having seen the other two. Shot largely in an industrial part of Bulgaria, once again with great action sequences and sickening electronic music. Whereas the sequel is about the UniSols having free will (or at least the illusion of such), Regeneration is all about how they’re not much more than human killing machines designed specifically for the purpose of murder. The fight between Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren is incredible, and Andrei Arlovski in this and Day of Reckoning is like a cross between the Terminator and Michael Myers. These movies are simply way better than you'd expect and deserve more attention. I can’t wait to see what Hyams does next.

The Telephone Book (1971) – Possibly the raunchiest movie I’ve ever watched. A young, horny girl receives an obscene phone call from a man with one hell of a voice (“I’d like to talk to you today about your amazing tits”) and immediately falls in love. Told his name is John Smith, she begins searching through the phonebook, calling every John Smith she can find, running into all the wrong perverts. Occasionally the movie cuts to interviews with former obscene callers talking about their experience. It’s weird, it’s depraved, it’s kind of hilarious. The animated sequence at the end of the movie is the most bizarre, filthy thing I’ve ever witnessed that wasn’t um, actual animated porn. Aside from a monologue that goes on way too long, this is a really entertaining descent into debauchery.

The Whole Nine Yards (2000) - My girlfriend says that Matthew Perry in this movie is basically me: awkwardly terrified of everything, always uncomfortable. She may be right. Also, Bruce Willis and Michael Clark Duncan, I just love those guys. I felt more like I was watching a Tex Avery cartoon than a live action movie, with its screwy plot of everyone trying to kill each other, awkward late 90’s fashion, overabundance of flies, that newspaper headline montage that plays in Perry’s head when he recognizes Willis, and Amanda Peet’s gratuitous nudity. Quite a lot of fun, this movie.

Next month? Who knows. I did get a cheap DVD copy of Pain and Gain which I'm looking forward to, so there's that.

Something Ugly Found Adrift

My art show, Something Ugly Found Adrift: the Art of Other Sleep, is next month, and I couldn't be more excited. It'll be at the William King Museum in Abingdon, VA from February 2nd through March 1st.

I've just about got everything together for it, including my artist statement that was dang near impossible to write for some stupid reason. The full color prints, which I ordered from American Art Editions, came in last week, and they look FANTASTIC. This Instagram picture of them does them no justice because cellphone cameras are lame, but whatever:
This show is also coinciding with an even bigger, better show called Heroes Aren't Hard to Find, which will be an exhibition of comic art from the personal collection of Shelton Drum, who runs the Heroes Aren't Hard to Find shop in Charlotte and is the man behind Heroes Con. The gallery is also being co-curated by Neil Bramlette, who runs the awesome Out of Step Arts collective that I've mentioned on here before.
I'm so excited for this. They're throwing in some Sandman pages from Charles Vess (he LIVES in Abingdon, you knew that, right?) and there will be some freaking Steve Ditko originals. STEVE DITKO ORIGINALS. How insane is that?! I'm stoked for my own show, sure, but I'm even more excited to see those.

I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to wear to the reception. I need a haircut. I still need to print more business cards and get stuff together. There's still so much to do!

The complete collection for Other Sleep will HOPEFULLY be available at the reception as well. I uploaded the whole thing last week and had 40 copies ordered, paying extra on shipping to get it here in time. I'll be selling it for 25 bucks, and there will also be free posters and buttons at the reception. It'll be good times all around, I think.

And FINALLY, I'm doing two anime conventions in March. The first one, ETSUCon, will be March 1st and 2nd, at ETSU in Johnson City, TN. The other one is KokuManga, which will be at the Johnson City Holiday Inn on March 29th and 30th. I attended these last year, you may remember, and did really good at both.

So, clearly, this first quarter of 2014 is going to be super busy and really fun. I wouldn't have it any other way. I hope to see a bunch of people at both the reception and the cons!

[Brett]

"Send for a medic...so I can kill him, too."

LAST ENTRY OF 2013! This one's a collection of odds and ends of favorite things from the year that didn't fit into the other entries, I guess?

The only new book I read in 2013: Gun Machine, by Warren Ellis – Between this and Crooked Little Vein (which may be my favorite novel of all time, actually), I hope Warren Ellis just keeps chugging out these slim, mean little crime novels with broken detectives and twisted killers.

Favorite music video: David Bowie – The Stars (Are Out Tonight)

I never got around to listening to his new album in its entirety, but man, I love this video he did with Tilda Swinton. Just right up my alley on the weird greatess. Plus, something wonderful about Bowie saying something as mundane as "happy hump day, Phil."

Best videogame: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – Mostly for the hilarity, the constant references to 80’s movies, the cool sci-fi neon graphics, and the EXCELLENT soundtrack by Power Glove. Most fun I’ve had with a game in some time and seriously the funniest game I've played since Psychonauts and Portal. Will I play any of the other Far Cry games? No, probably not. Unless you get to play as Rex "Power" Colt again, that is.

Best videogame that wasn’t Blood Dragon: The Last of Us – Aside from the emotional prologue, I HATED the first few hours of this game. But the more I played, the more it grew on me. It still has flaws, and I think the way it instantly cuts ahead into the story after certain emotional moments is cheap, like the game is apologizing for making you FEEL THINGS, and I’m still not sure how to feel about the ending, but man, what an intense game.

Best TV show I watched: Arrested Development – I don’t get all the complaining people were doing about the new season on Netflix. It does take a little time for things to click, for you to get into the way the show is working, but the original series was exactly like that as well. Also, my favorite joke of the entire show is in one of George Michael’s episodes: when he moves into the neighborhood with all the pedophiles who fall for him because of how young he looks. Too damn funny.

Best new thing in Bristol: The opening of a Beef Jerky Outlet. Now I don’t have to drive two hours to Pigeon Forge to get my fix! I went three times in one week. This will be my death, mark my words.

Thing I spent the most money on this year that wasn’t my new car: My jaw. :(

Favorite internet thing: Chris Ready watched and reviewed every single Godzilla movie on his blog, then posted awesome screenshots from all of them on his Tumblr. He also writes awesome reviews for other things, and is a damn cool guy on Twitter.

Best thing that happened this year, I think: Going to the beach for the first time in over a decade with my girlfriend and getting to see wild alligators. Oh, and finishing Other Sleep, of course.

Worst thing that happened this year, I think: The crazy, large, infected cyst that was found and removed from my jaw. See “Thing I spent the most money on this year that wasn’t my new car.”

"Fortune favors the brave, dude."

You know how when you look at someone else's list of their favorite things of the year and it's all stuff you've never seen or heard of, things you missed out on, and when you compare it to your own list, you feel really dumb? Well, I'm feeling really dumb about my own short list of movies that I most enjoyed this year. Here they are, for better or worse.

Drug War – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie quite as lean and efficient at this one. Tightly edited, not a second wasted, this movie just goes and doesn’t stop until everybody is dead. Exposition is kept at a bare minimum, if not tossed out completely, but everything is handled so well that you’re never quite left behind. Not to mention that it’s just a great, vicious crime story as well. Just incredible all around. Best movie of the year, I think. I mean, it was originally released in China last year, so maybe it SHOULDN'T count, but it wasn't brought overseas til this year. So there.

Pacific Rim – Drug War’s the best, but Pacific Rim is my favorite, for reasons I’ve already gone into before. To reiterate: Giant robots fighting giant monsters (some of which were designed by Guy Davis!), Idris Elba, Ron Perlman, Rinko Kikuchi, a soundtrack that really gets you pumped up, and so on and so forth. This movie feels like it was made just for me, and I have no problem with having watched it four times in theaters.

Upstream ColorAlready written about this briefly before, too, but I’m still struggling to articulate my feelings about it. The whole movie is like a dream in an aquarium, functioning less as a movie and more like a good music album that you put on and just get lost in. The imagery, music, and sound design are one, it’s hard to pull it apart and talk about one aspect without talking about the rest of it. Just…just exceptional. I can't wait for whatever Shane Carruth comes up with next.

Thor: The Dark World – I didn’t expect to like this movie as much as I did. It’s not without its flaws, but I had a lot of fun watching it with my girlfriend. The Dark Elves aren’t GREAT villains, but they look really cool, Idris Elba kills a spaceship single-handedly, and Stellan Skarsgard prepares for his role in Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac by refusing to wear pants. I'm coming to terms, at last, with the Marvel movies and actually beginning to admire them for just straight up cranking these things out at the rate of two a year. I got on my high horse when I hated the Avengers, but I think I've since learned to back off a bit and just enjoy them for being colorful popcorn movies that come around every summer.

There's one more post to go, it's going to be a big mixed bag of things, so look forward to that!

"Calling him deep into the rotting war machine"

I read a lot of comics this year, no surprise there. Trying to narrow down everything I liked to a mere 5 or so is silly, so here's a good DOZEN of the comics I loved most in 2013.

Prophet – It should come as no surprise that one of my favorite comics from last year hasn’t faltered at all. Awesome, weird, epic sci-fi from Brandon Graham and a badass stable of artists. Issue 37, a solo issue by Giannis Milonogiannis, was simply my favorite single issue of anything that I read this year.

Nowhere Men – One of my favorite new series from last year. It’s a dense read, with beautiful art from Nate Bellegarde and impeccable design work from fonografiks. Sucks that it took forever before a new issue came out a couple months back, with no word on when the next one comes, but I know it'll be worth the wait.

Copra – Michel Fiffe’s self-published monthly action comic, this book puts to shame everything Marvel and DC have put out in the past decade. Watching this blow up over the year has been incredibly fun, capping out with an explosive 12th issue. It's insane just how crazy and inventive Fiffe gets, even with the massive deadlines he imposed upon himself.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin vol. 1 – Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s adaptation of the original 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam anime is a great war comic. Scenes of violence are depicted in a loose, frantic way, with huge slabs of ink, bordering on being abstract. I haven’t kept up with any of the recent Gundam series in years, feeling like it was becoming more about selling lots of toys and model kits, and this comic swings things back around to powerful storytelling. I think Vertical just recently released the 4th volume? I have some catching up to do...

Battling Boy – It took years and years to be released, but it was well worth it. Paul Pope’s latest work looks like Jack Kirby and Go Nagai had a kid together. Super kinetic and fun, the only issue is the size. They printed this thing too small to do the art any real justice, sadly. Hoping a nice deluxe hardcover will come sometime soon.

Catalyst Comix – Another great superhero comic that’s running circles around Marvel and DC. Joe Casey and his gang of artists, Dan McDaid, Paul Maybury, and Ulises Farinas are killing it. The energy just crackles off the page, it's so much fun to read. I know nothing of these Dark Horse superheroes which Casey and the gang are reviving, but it doesn't really matter. 

Sex Criminals – I was not expecting to get so emotionally invested in a screwball sex comedy comic about a couple who can stop time with their orgasms and use that ability to rob banks. It’s also made me laugh until I choked more times than I can count, and there are only 3 issues out as of this writing! Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky are not fucking around here, except, well, yeah, they are. The letter column in the back of each issue is wonderful, too. And would you just look at that cover for the FOURTH printing of the first issue? Just...just...wow.

Hawkeye – The only Marvel book I’m subscribed to, with good reason. It started out strong last year, and just keeps improving. David Aja is making magic with his art (the frequent delays suck, but are worth it), and bringing Annie Wu in is even better. It's barely even a superhero book, which is probably another reason I love it so much.

Pretty Deadly – Best debut of the year, hands down, even if it is only three issues in. Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios are spinning one hell of a story here, a western with a hefty dose of Japanese new wave and Heavy Metal thrown in for good measure. The closest I've seen a comic get to a Seijun Suzuki film that I've come across in recent memory.

Zero – Another solid debut. Ales Kot is writing one hell of a spy comic here, with a different, killer artist working on each issue and pulling all sorts of cool visual tricks. Where it's leading, I'm not really sure, but it's most certainly one hell of a ride.

Very Casual – Michael Deforge is a comics monster and cannot be stopped. Which is good, because who would want to stop him? This book collects a bunch of random short comics he's done over the past few years and gives you a pretty damn good idea of just what a deranged comics genius he is. Wonderful, disturbing, hilarious stuff.

Hecate Snake Diaries vol. 2 – I bought this and the first volume off of Gumroad and read both in one afternoon. I’ve always been more familiar with Sarah Horrocks’ writing than with her comics, so this was my first time really digging in. It’s immense stuff, explosions of color, comics largely about transgender issues, Edward Snowden and PRISM, with some essays in there about comics criticism and other things. No one else is making comics like Sarah, to my knowledge. Narrative is set aside in favor of emotional expression and bizarre compositions. It leaves you dizzy, in a good way. After I sent her an email gushing about how blown away I was by her work, she told me that everything in this volume in particular was drawn in something like a two week span? Insane. Awe-inspiring.

OTHER COMICS I LIKED:
Supermag by Jim Rugg / Godzilla: The Half Century War by James Stokoe (final issue came out this year so I can count it!) / Batman '66 by Jeff Parker, Richard Case, and other artists / THRST by Alejandro Bruzzese / Demeter by Becky Cloonan /  Hellboy in Hell by Mike Mignola / Sex by Joe Casey and Piotr Kowalski / Gamma by Ulises Farinas and Erick C. Freitas / Clutch by Sloane Leong / The Man Who Dances in the Meadow by Sam Alden

"This city just screams black magic"

I really am not any kind of authority on music at all. You shouldn't trust my opinions on such things, especially since what crosses my path is a mere drop in the bucket when it comes to all of the albums and such released this year. Either way, here are five favorite albums of mine from 2013.
 The Shirks – The Shirks: Only 8 tracks and not even 20 minutes in length, but that’s by no means a bad thing. Fast, loud, and infectious. Every song plows into you like a truck barreling down a cliff. These guys played in Bristol earlier this year, and it was such a good show. Perfect punk.
Best track: Dirty Teen Wolf. Screaming "I DON'T KNOW A THING ABOUT LOVE" at the top of my lungs.
 

Carpenter Brut – EP I & II: Okay, yeah, EP I was released last December so it shouldn’t technically count, but that’s not stopping me. I actually bought it a mere week before EP II came out this year. This is my favorite music discovery of the year. Loud, sleazy electro music that sounds like it belongs in an 80’s slasher arcade game, if that makes sense. Heavy John Carpenter influence, if you didn't already guess that from his name. I wish every retro-style videogame and movie that comes out from now on had soundtracks that sound like this.
Best track: Escape From Midwitch Valley. Starts off nice and slow and creepy, with an audio sample from John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness, building and building, then morphs towards the end into something you can really move to. Perfect for driving down curvy roads in heavily wooded areas on a foggy night. That's something I love about this dude's music: there are a lot of tracks that really change up as they progress, he doesn't just stick to one particular...style? sound? You know what I mean? Keeps things interesting.
 

Colleen Green – Sock it to Me: This year’s chill out album, which I return to whenever I need to relax and de-stress. It’s stripped down, simple stuff, with lyrics that sound like they came out of a high school girl’s journal, and I don’t mean that in a negative way at all. Her voice, her guitar, those electronic drum beats are just a perfect combination to put me at ease. She’s another one who put on a great show here in Bristol this year.
Best track: Heavy Shit. I heard the song at particularly stressful point in time, where I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, and this song just kind of nailed it for me.
 

Queens of the Stone Age - …Like Clockwork: Josh Homme’s most powerful album, emotionally speaking. The music bounces around from track to track, making it a little inconsistent sounding, but even still, there isn't a single weak track on here. There are lines here and there which just crush me, like when Josh croons "Does anyone ever get this right?" on the Vampyre of Time and Memory.
Best track: I Appear Missing. Just sheer emotional power.


Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels: A week after Yeezus came out and disappointed me, Killer Mike and El-P dropped this collaborative album for free. This is how it’s done. Does anyone do beats better than El-P? I don’t think so. The whole thing is just two guys having fun, and it’s infectious. Once again, great music for cruising around.
Best track: Sea Legs. Favorite beat on the album, and I really love El-P's opening verse.
 

Next time: Comics! There were a lot of good ones, man.