Halfway through the set comes "New Mexico". It's a song that sounds like an open stretch of highway bisecting a craggy landscape: it is shuffling and dusty, straight and pebbled, with speed that surges though the distance to go seems endless. When Simon Petty sings it, his voice is full of grain and smolder; the melody channeled by the band brightens and darkens, like a dusk that dampens but doesn't die. This song wants to take us somewhere. And Minibar do, too. They themselves are notable for their movements -- five Brits who've relocated in California, playing music that sounds as if the time between Hotel California and now has been deleted. Tonight, we are witnesses to another trip, their first to New York. And on this, they want us to appreciate someplace we aren't -- someplace more sunkissed, bucolic; someplace where bands can just be, rather than be buzzed about. They've a small, but earnest, crowd, as sincere and unjaded as the poppified country being performed. A mother and daughter, both over 30 and who by all guesses have never been to a rock show, are sitting closest to the front, slapping the table and clapping their hands in the air. To one side is a gaggle of college-aged girls, equally thrilled by the easygoing music and the raggedly handsome good looks of the band's lead singer. To the other side, yuppie couples cuddle one another and sip cocktails. Onstage, the standard New York rock show cool is markedly, and refreshingly, lacking. The fellows of Minibar smile modestly and greet us warmly; they appear pleased when it's obvious they're enjoying themselves, they tell stories when they feel it's appropriate. You get the feeling that they're just being exactly who they are: nothing more, nothing less. Though true to form, this show maintains a certain guardedness, seldom straining from the manicured studio sounds of their two full-length releases. For the unseasoned rock show attendee, this is exactly appropo -- and it does take a certain dexterity to reproduce songs in the real as vividly as they sound on record. But those seeking oodles of new tricks needed to look elsewhere. After opening their set with a near carbon-copy of "It Is What It Is" off their latest release, Fly Below the Radar (2003, Foodchain Records), it seemed certain that "Unstoppable", the album's second track, would begin after a four second silence. That song did come, but much later -- and when it did, it proceeded on its rootsy-waltz course until near the end, when something compelled Petty to get on his knees, inserting in a bloodthirsty, and surprising, guitar solo. From then on, it was clear that Minibar wanted to let go -- but perhaps the relaxed nature of their music didn't facilitate it. But then again, perhaps the last thing one wants on a trip are unexpected shocks. For as much as the show remained in a comfort zone, it was highly comforting. "Breathe Easy", another beautiful 3/4 swinger from Fly Below, was earthen and wide as an open plain, pretty and water-tight. "I Know Without Asking", one of the few offerings from 2001's Road Movies, was as familiar and warm as a handshake from an old friend. "Thanks", a song off their limited-edition disc that accompanies Fly, was charging in its aural homage to Big Star and their brethren, pulling the crowd in with its raucous, country-flavored power pop. Minibar are going places. Whether forward or back in time, with trends or paying them absolutely no mind, they are a band interested in the spaces between, the hours spent, the changes that occur en route. They are a band for going away and coming home again.
The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.
70. The Horrors - "Machine"
On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke
Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.
20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)
Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta
"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.
The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.
Rather than once again exploring the all-too-familiar territory of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Samantha Silva's debut novel contextualizes the work's origins and gets inside the mind of its creator.
Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol has been told and retold so many times over the years that, by this point, one might be hard-pressed to find a single soul evenly glancingly familiar with western culture who isn't at least tangentially acquainted with the holiday classic. This is, of course, a bit of holiday-themed hyperbole, but the fact remains that the basic premise of A Christmas Carol has become so engrained in our culture that it would seem near impossible to imagine a time prior to its existence. It's universally-relatable themes of the power of kindness, redemption and forgiveness speaks to the heart of the Christmas season – at least as it has been presented in the 174 years since it was first published in 19 December 1843 -- just in time for Christmas.
Following his excellent debut record Communion, Rabit further explores the most devastating aspects of its sound in his sophomore opus Les Fleurs du Mal.
Back in 2015 Rabit was unleashing Communion in the experimental electronic scene. Combining extreme avant-garde motifs with an industrial perspective on top of the grime sharpness, Eric C. Burton released one of the most interesting records of that year. Blurring lines between genres, displaying an aptitude for taking things to the edge and the fact that Burton was not afraid to embrace the chaos of his music made Communion such an enticing listen, and in turn set Rabit to be a "not to be missed" artist.