The Rest of Scriv’s Favorite Albums of 2017

Turns out I had a little more to say about each of these albums than I though.  It also turns out that rapid-fire publishing nine posts over eight days isn’t a great idea, so I’m clumping most of my favorite albums of 2017 into this post on this final day of the year.  Here are my takes on weirdo-pop icon Fever Ray, prog theatrics from King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, a slab of supermassive riffs from Ground, a lightning-fast thrash assault from Lich King, and Igorrr, dear god, Igorrr, what have you wrought?

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A Confession and a Resolution

So, here’s a confession that probably compromises a significant part of my identity:

I don’t like reading.

More specifically, I don’t like reading books.

When I was a young kid I blossomed as one of those “early readers”. As a child under the burden of extreme social anxiety and multiple phobias, reducing my world to the space between two pages was a great relief of stimuli. And then, around high junior high-school or so, I just… stopped reading. There were a bunch of factors; I had just gotten access to cable TV for the first time in my life, as well as a computer connected to the internet. It was also right around the time when adolescents were realizing that reading was only “cool” because the adults were incessantly telling them so… Which, by ironic contrast, made it definitely “not cool”. I fell into that line of thought and never really rebounded even after my ego was no longer endangered by the cruel machinations of socialization though public schooling.

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Scriv’s Favorite Albums of 2017: Neil Cicierega, Mouth Moods

Distinguished readers, here is the 2017 album that took BloodLetterPress by storm, the one that we’ve had playing at most of our in-person meetings this year, the latest offering from the man we’ve come to view as the voice of a generation. Neil Cicierega, perhaps best known as the creator of Lemon Demon, Potter Puppet Pals, and countless other internet follies, has graced us with a third mashup album.

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Scriv’s Favorite Albums of 2017: Ex People, Bird

If you’ve ever been under a weighted blanket, or dozed off in the trunk of a car during a hot summer, you know the sensation I’m trying to invoke when I say that Ex People’s debut Bird is a comfy doom album.  Comfy doom is the kind of music that Windhand plays, the kind that Cloudkicker invoked on Subsume, the feeling of getting overwhelmed by something heavy and soft that pins you down and gets you cozy.  It doesn’t need to be scary or capital-e Evil; its power comes from its ability to flatten, to neutralize, to disarm. “You’ll be eating out my hand,” vocalist Laura Kirsop promises on the track “You Creep”.  It’s a cool subversion of the macho posturing that some elements of metal fall back on, and given Ex People’s roots in punk and riot grrrl, it’s certainly intentional.

The London quartet bring the low end like nobody’s business on Bird; at its grooviest, this album’s kinetic energy is the kind of meaty lumbering you might expect from an entire slumber of megatherium. But the blunt instruments of the rhythm section don’t just twist and crush aimlessly though the earth; this is not just a collection of nice riffs that become stale after twenty minutes. Ex People craft a heady soundscape, nestling you in layers upon layers of textured guitar, beautiful loud-soft dynamics, and a perfectly matched vocal performance even as you’re driven forth by the low end. Guitarist Calem Gunn said it best in an interview with Metal Hammer: “There’s a unique, addictive feeling to be wrought from playing low and slow. Weight and the absence of weight.”  Bird is a colossal creature borne aloft.

Prank Night at the Pit: A Jackalope Short

“Hey frosh.”
I jolt awake, swaying hard in my hammock. It is cold. Six masked figures loom over me. High above them, the moon cuts a perfect curve through the Pit’s dirty plexiglass skylight.
“It’s prank night, frosh. You in?”
The stage-whispering figure looming over me has the face of a vampire bat, a wrinkled, hairy thing. Twin fangs gleam beneath two jutting yearling antlers. The six figures looming over me are all wearing antlered vampire bat masks.
“Yeah,” I grumble, pulling my blanket close, “I’m in, I guess.”

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Two Styles of Hard Games, How We Play Them, and Why We Like Them

I’ve been playing Hopoo Games’s Deadbolt lately and thorougly enjoying it. I just barely beat Capter 2 Level 1, and 2:2, to me, looks almost impossibly difficult (ended up beating it while writing this. –ð). Attempting this level is certainly going to result in me being gunmurdered by vampires many, many times (it did. –ð), and yet, I’m excited for it. Why do we like hard games? What is driving me to persist through failure after failure? I think it has something to do with the way games structure their challenges, and the ways in which human beings pursue self-development.

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Today’s Cartoons are Best Cartoons: Getting the Tech Episode Right

This week on “Cartoons Today are So Much Better Than in the 90’s”; Nickelodeon’s family-comedy serial The Loud House manages to get the obligatory “modern technology” storyline right! It seems like ever since smartphones ushered in the social media lifestyle, cartoons never managed to get through an episode dedicated to the topic without muttering about dang kids and getting off lawns.

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