2015 music wrap-up, and mixtape 161

In only approximate order of favoriteness -- and for the thirteenth year in a row -- here is my year-end wrap-up. As usual, a few of the entries on the following list were released earlier than 2015, but that is when I discovered them, so I'm allowing some slack. Though most were actually released in 2015.

This year I acquired around 80% as much new music as last year: roughly 60 new releases, almost all released within the last 3 years, more than half released in 2015. That's down 50% from 2013.

Number of those bands that I saw perform this year: 15.
Number of those bands that performed at DNA Lounge this year: 5.
Go Team. Both of those numbers are down too.

So I am officially in a rut.

I haven't commented on all of these because I still find it really hard. Don't hold it against them. Listen to the mixtape!

I like these things. You should like them too. Here's your shopping list:

  • Veruca Salt - "Ghost Notes"

    This album sounds like they could have made it in 1998 -- which is totally fine by me. It's really, really great: Triage and The Museum of Broken Relationships are as good as anything they've ever done. In case you haven't heard, this is the band's original lineup, producer and all. They broke up in 1998, and Louise released two and a half albums on her own, but now everybody's happy so they can get back to writing angry songs about miserable relationships!

    I think it's kind of weird that most of the reviews I've read of it have pretty much pretended that Louise's "solo" Veruca Salt albums don't even exist. I think Resolver is very nearly as good an album as Eight Arms To Hold You was -- I love every track. And the later releases were also pretty good: maybe not up to that standard as whole albums, but they contained some great stuff: Damage Done, Officially Dead, Closer, Save You...

  • Meg Myers - "Sorry"

    More angry songs about terrible relationships! Yay!

  • Chvrches - "Every Open Eye"

    I'd say that overall the tracks on this album are consistently better than on The Bones of What You Believe, but that one had some better stand-out tracks. By the way, if you haven't heard their covers of I Would Die 4 V and Bela Lugosi's Dead, you really should.

  • Health - "Death Magic"

    This album has a very unusual style: the music is heavy as fuck, sometimes sounding a bit metal, sometimes a bit industrial, but just so heavy, and then the vocals come in and he's singing in this airy synthpoppy style. It sounds like that would be a complete mess, but it's not! Also this was probably the second best show I saw all year -- and they only came in second to Lydia Lunch, and she's hard to top.

  • Metric - "Pagans in Vegas"

    This is a really good album, but I keep wanting them to release Fantasies again... and it's not quite Fantasies. But, I felt the same way about Synthetica too, and that grew on me eventually.

  • Vanbot - "Perfect Storm"

    This album makes me feel sad, and cold, and sad. Ok, I'm really cold right now. But that's not why.

  • The Chemical Brothers - "Born in The Echoes"

    Better than Further, definitely, but they are kind of repeating themselves. Go is probably the best track, and its awesome, but it's basically the same as Galvanize (which to me I will always hear as the Galvanize the Empire mash-up, dammit). Taste of Honey could be a Recoil song.

  • Shriekback - "Without Real String or Fish"

    The first Shriekback album in five years! Three quarters of the original lineup. It's definitely a return to their 80s form, much more in the Oil and Gold vein than Sacred City or Naked Apes. Of the recent albums, I would still rate Glory Bumps slightly above this, but it's very good. I got the special edition that came with a 3d-printed fish and little bits of string. Their merch game is very strong.

  • Happy Fangs - "Capricorn"

    "Excuse me Sir, do you have a minute to talk about rock and roll?" They are awesome, and I'm glad we have booked them as often as we have. Though it has been a while.

  • Fight Like Apes - "Fight Like Apes"

    Even though it's self-titled, it's their third or fourth album, depending on how you count. It's great, though not as funny as previous releases. But it's hard to top song titles like Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues, Come On Let's Talk About Our Feelings, Pull Off Your Arms and Let's Play In Your Blood (from "The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner").

  • Five Knives - "Savages"

    Like I said when reviewing their first album, this band is what Shiny Toy Guns should have been but weren't. Their lyrics are like, the brattiest stuff I've ever heard.

  • Wolf Alice - "My Love Is Cool"

    A little shoegazey, a little grungey. Bellly meets L7?

  • Public Service Broadcasting - "The Race For Space"

    All of their albums are built around newsreels and old radio broadcasts. This one is about the space race, obviously. The songs are not as gimicky as that sounds.

  • Meet Me In Orbit - "Traveller"

    Synthy, mostly instrumental, and possibly from the 19A0s.

  • Jesika von Rabbit - "Journey Mitchell"

    A more electronic album by the singer of Gram Rabbit, a longtime favorite. It's goofy. She's a wonderful goofball.

  • Speedy Ortiz - "Foil Deer"

    This sounds so much like if Liz Phair made records that I actually like! Wait, that didn't come out quite right. No, actually, it did. The Phair is strong in this one, but better. "Sorry I made out with your friends. I'm not that sorry, I'm never that sorry."

  • Barry Andrews - "Haunted Box of Switches, Vol. 2"

    The singer of Shriekback does his "crooning with a piano" bit. Volume 1 was superior, but this makes a good counterpoint to that copy of "Without Real String or Fish" you were gonna pick up.

  • Say Hi - "Bleeder's Digest"

    More sad songs about vampires! That's right, it's the sequel to Impeccable Blahs.

  • Sleep Thieves - "You Want The Night"

  • Priest - "Priest"

  • Ume - "Too Big World"

  • Vela Eyes - "Sparks"

  • 2:54 - "The Other I"

  • Voltaire Twins - "Milky Waves"

  • Sleater-Kinney - "No Cities To Love"

    If you were looking for an album that sounds exactly like a Sleater-Kinney album, this is that.

  • Chromatics - "Running From The Sun"

    If you were looking for an album that sounds exactly like a Chromatics album...

  • Purity Ring - "Another Eternity"

    If you were...

And finally, here's mixtape 161, which includes one track by each of the above artists.

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Current Music: as noted

DNA Lounge: Wherein vomit isn't just for the evening.

An incident report we received this afternoon:

Hey guys, we had a super awesome tweaker come in this afternoon. He screamed at us wishing us a happy new year, said he loved us, grabbed his genitals and walked outside. He lingered outside for a few minutes and then left. I walked outside a few minutes ago and saw the vomit he left us on the ATM.

Welcome to Fragrant SOMA. I'll spare you the photo of the puke-soaked ATM. Here are some prettier photos instead:

Allie X
Book of Love
Wild Moth

Delicious Methane

Footage taken on December 17 shows a geyser of methane gas, visible by infrared camera.

In early December, the Southern California Gas Company said that plugging the leak, which sprang in mid-October, would take at least three more months. Right now, the single leak accounts for a quarter of the state's entire methane emissions, and the leak has been called the worst environmental disaster since the BP oil spill in 2010.

Part of the problem in stopping the leak lies in the base of the well, which sits 8,000 feet underground. Pumping fluids down into the well, usually the normal recourse, just isn't working, said Silva. Workers have been "unable to establish a stable enough column of fluid to keep the force of gas coming up from the reservoir." The company is now constructing a relief well that will connect to the leaking well, and hopefully provide a way to reduce pressure so the leak can be plugged. Right now, relief efforts have drilled only 3,800 feet down -- less than half of the way to the base of the well.

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The King In Red

Camilla: You, sir, should unmask.
Stranger: Indeed?
Cassilda: Indeed it's time. We all have laid aside disguise but you.
Stranger: I wear no mask.
Camilla: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda.) No mask? No mask!


Tillinghast: Oh, it's so beautiful... So... beautiful!
Pretorius: Now you can truly see.
Katherine: What have you done to him?
Pretorius: I only awakened his sleeping pineal gland. It did the rest itself.
Katherine: No!

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Less than 24 hours! That's how long it took before someone threw away all of my ornaments!

I hate to go Full Godwin, but striping a tree of its ornaments on Christmas Day is absolutely the Grinchiest thing I have ever heard of.


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Last night, someone asked me if my surveillance camera sign modification art project was still ongoing. Sadly, the answer is no. I kept it up for about two months, but after a while it stopped feeling like a twice-daily opportunity to make a snarky joke about fear-based complicity in ubiquitous, asymmetric surveillance, and more like a chore coupled with an opportunity to argue with idiots.

Also I was sad that even though I got emails saying "Keep it up!" from a few other tenants of my building, when I was out of town for a week, nobody was willing to step up and continue the stickering in my absence. Throw me a bone here, people.

Anyway, this year someone put a Christmas tree in our lobby. It had lights but no ornaments, and last night, when I was having some of my "thinkin' juice" and got that question about the stickers, I said to myself I said, "You know what I oughtta do..!"

I thought this was funny enough that I braved Target on Christmas Eve. I hope you appreciate the hardships I endure for comedy.

I regret that my handwriting is not what it could be, but apparently I don't know anyone whose handwriting is any better. And uh, who was willing to come over and sit on my floor and doodle on my balls on short notice.

Happy Surveillmas, everybody!

And stop touching yourself.

Update: Well that didn't take long!

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5 mètres 80. 7 tonnes 2.

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DNA Lounge: Wherein everything is terrible.

It's been a while since my last update, but that's only because everything has been a disaster and I haven't felt like talking about it.

It's the worst time of the year for the nightlife industry -- basically, you can count on Halloween being great, and New Year's Eve being great, and absolutely everything in between the two being terrible, especially in December. Everybody is broke or traveling or anticipating same. You also can't do any promotion for things happening in January or February, because New Year's Eve is like the goddamned Singularity -- nobody can even imagine what's on the other side of it so they won't even think about that until it has happened.

So into this dead zone comes the new restaurant and bar, at the tail end of a very expensive construction project. We have run out our budget, even after having deeply triaged the project, saving lots of things to be done "later".

Business at the new restaurant has been terrible. Business at the new club has been beyond terrible. Like, the attendance on many nights has been so low that we lost money by being open at all.

We're not even getting much daytime business at the new restaurant, which I still feel should be a pretty good location for weekday lunch business. Some of this may be attributable to the fact that the place isn't very visible. The complete mess that the condo construction project next door has made of our sidewalk isn't helping (and that mess probably isn't going away for two or three years); and the fact that our outside signage is terrible and hard to see is definitely not helping -- but, there's currently no budget for better signs either.

This is the part where everyone starts gushing platitudes: "Oh, it's early days! It will pick up! It's December!" Yeah, I know, that is probably true. But opening a second 24 hour restaurant means that I've got like 20 or 25 additional employees now, and oddly enough, they'd all like me to pay them. Telling me, "I'm sure it'll be better in February" doesn't help with that whole "payroll" problem.

In addition to the increased number of staff, we still have a ridiculously high turnover in restaurant employees -- either because we keep firing people for being just plain really bad at their jobs, or because they quit for whatever reason. Every time you hire a new person, that person costs you like twice as much salary for a couple of weeks while they're being trained, so having a high turnover is really expensive. If we could find just like... ten really competent people who would actually stick around, that would be great.

In attendance-related news, we finally killed our weekly Tuesday party, Sequence. The attendance when Sequence was at DNA was terrible, so we moved it over to the more appropriately-sized room at Codeword, and the attendance there was even worse, so we finally just threw in the towel. We kept slogging away at it for so long because we just had to believe that there is demand out there for an 18+ weeknight dance party, since there are almost none of those in this town. If you're 20 and you want to go out on a weeknight in San Francisco, you're pretty much shit out of luck. But, no. The people have spoken and they're not interested. Bummer.

This last Saturday we did a one-off Death Guild over at Codeword. It was a fun party, and pretty well attended. And all of our staff, and most of our staff's friends, would love it if we just did that all the time, which means that this is a conversation I had repeatedly that night:

    "This is my first time here, and this is great! You should do this party always!"

    "We can't. If we did, then you people, who spend your entire lives at Cat Club, would go there first and then come here, or vice versa. Which means everybody makes half as much money, and it's terrible all around."

    "Oh, yeah, huh, I totally would do that."

That night I was talking to a friend and used the phrase "mainstream dance party", and my friend said, "you mean like, eighties?" Because that's what mainstream means to you when you're a 40something goth. My response may have been overly heated.

Well, here are some photos from a few events over the last couple of months.

Hey, did you know that last month was DNA Lounge's Thirtieth anniversary of its original opening, back in 1985? Yeah, neither did anyone else. About fourteen months ago we started brainstorming about what we could do to mark the occasion. Our hope was to have a full week of live shows of bands that merited a $30 ticket and that had some kind of connection to DNA history, or the 80s or 90s or both. I came up with a list of 30 or 40 ideas, and our booker came up with others, and after pushing at this for a year, you know what we ended up with? Fucking Everclear. And that was a coincidence anyway. So we just ignored the whole thing. [Insert party noisemaker sound here.]

By the way, how is Second Life still a thing?

Bootie: Heaven & Hell
Bootie: Second Life
Bootie: DNA Lounge 30th Anniversary
Monday Hubba

So Stoked
The Phenomenauts
Bootie: Pro Wrestling Odyssey
Reverend Horton Heat
Mark Redito

Hubba Fairy Tales
Hubba Christmas
That 1 Guy
Death Guild: Saturday

The Internet Archive Telethon is live now:

Internet Archive Telethon

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Drinky, a different kind of bar bot

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