Bodega’s Ben Hozie tells us about his favorite albums of 2018
Brooklyn band Bodega have had a good year. They released their terrific debut album, Endless Scroll, and have toured their butts off, from SXSW (including BV's official showcase) and all over North America, the UK and Europe. They'll be heading back to Europe in early 2019, including dates with Beijing duo Gong Gong Gong (III). Before that, they'll play a holiday show at Brooklyn's Rough Trade on December 20 with Honduras, and Gustaf (tickets). Those dates are listed, along with a stream of Endless Scroll, below.
We've been asking artists for year end lists, and Bodega's Ben Hozie just sent us his, which includes Courtney Barnett, IDLES, Stephen Malkmus, Parquet Courts (whose Austin Brown produced Bodega's LP), Shame, and more. Like Kevin Morby, he couldn't narrow his list to just 10 and sent a Top 15. Check out Ben's list, complete with entertaining, thoughtful commentary, below.
BEN HOZIE OF BODEGA'S FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2018
Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel
I remember first putting this record on in the cans after feeling particularly burnt out on tour and immediately feeling like I was reconnecting with an old friend. Of course, Courtney mocks that very ‘fan as friend’ notion in many of these songs. I don’t think the B-side is anywhere near as amazing as the A but it doesn’t bother me. Has a sadder line about band life ever been sung than ‘Friends treat you like a stranger and strangers treat you like a best friend?’ Oh well.
Palberta - Roach Goin’ Down
If I didn’t have a band I would have started one after hearing this record. Their commitment to refining and expanding the parameters of their unique vocabulary is inspiring. I would love to be a fly-on-the-wall in the practice space when they came up with these arrangements. Sort of like Like My Decals or Trout Mask without the blues…or the jazz.
Iceage - Beyondless
I love this band in this more sleazy trad rock mode - motorik and Rolling Stones, etc. ‘Catch it’ sounds like Robert Smith slurring over "Venus in Furs" - but is somehow even better than that sounds. The ‘Why don’t you come and ask me / I adore you my friend’ part is hair raising - ecstatic and erotic. A new standard in my book.
Guerilla Toss - Twisted Crystal
I love what G Toss has been up to the past few years since moving out of Boston —> venturing further into heady zones while bringing huge hooks and infectious grooves. All of the group compositions on this one are super tasty - lots of great guitar ideas and Web 1.0 hyperlinks. ‘Meteorological’ is my current go-to sugar rush track - the vocal phrasing is my definition of cool.
Daniel Blumberg - Minus
I’ve had a big art-crush on Daniel since the first Yuck (and especially his Hebronix record) —> I was very excited when I first saw the LP sleeve he made for this one. I love his approach to improvised extended balladry. The amount of emotion captured in the playing/singing on ‘Madder’ and ‘Stacked’ is unreal. That’s the kind of feeling rock musicians rarely ever get to without a stage and an audience. In the latter he is like an actor playing ditch-era Neil Young - which paradoxically allows him to totally express himself.
Parquet Courts - Wide Awake!
At their live shows this year PC sometimes brought out the opening act to dance and help sing the title track - which fulfilled my lifelong dream of getting to role-play Bez from the Happy Mondays for a night. I’m still very impressed by the crisp production and funky arrangements (‘Normalization’ is the definition of a ‘ripper’) but it's the left turns that really get me - like hearing the band really cook in bar-band mode on ‘Free Bird II.’
Lithics - Mating Surfaces
High praise: when I closed my eyes during one of their sets this year I felt like I was reliving ‘Man with a Movie Camera.’
Stephen Malkmus - Sparkle Hard
‘Middle America’ is such a masterful track - wise, hilarious, graceful ——> for now Malkmus is my Dylan and the Jicks are my Pavement.
Mezzanine Swimmers - Black Cat In Heat
One man with two samplers and a bunch of fx ——> head in the clouds w/ feet in quicksand. Mike’s (his other band is Video Daughters) balancing of tune and texture is impressive. This set makes randomness sound logical.
Gift Wrap - Losing Count
I love this record. Brendon from B-Boy’s ‘side project’ (stupid phrase) is vibey, catchy, and very addicting. It also sounds like it was very fun to make (which is a very contagious).
Frankie Cosmos - Vessel
I love how the first track switches gears right after the first line of the second verse - it feels both composed and totally spontaneous. ‘Frankie’ is a master employer of my favorite storytelling tool : the ellipses. The melodies are breezy too.
Shame - Songs of Praise
We played a few shows with these guys this year and each time I was pretty blown away by their huge dynamics and swagger (Charlie’s onstage mic-moves are fantastic). Despite a few surface signifiers - to me they feel spiritually closer to Stone Roses/Oasis than classic Rough Trade (especially on the swinging’ track ‘Friction’ - my favorite of the disc) - which is pretty thrilling.
Pill - Soft Hell
Something about a lot of these clean guitar and saxophone riffs really reminds me of a rainy NYC afternoon where the sky is gray but its not dark yet - where buses shoot water onto the wet concrete. The title track sounds like the theme song of an '80s Mike Leigh movie (which would make it wet London I guess). The record sleeve is also probably my favorite of the year - pretty funny until you think about what it implies for the dog musician.
Shark Toys - Labyrinths
The record starts with a blast of voltage ——> one chord non-stop driving (first played like Chuck Berry then all downstrokes). The bass breaks tension with some satisfying runs but there’s nothing in the tune except that one chord. It makes sense that the song was written by someone devoted to long distance running (we toured with these guys on the West Coast in the middle of the summer) —> it's hard to not sprint around the block when this one comes on.
Idles - Joy as an act of resistance
I only heard this record a handful of times this year but I have been repeatedly quite moved by the philosophy behind this Bristol group : building community through passionate optimism instead of nihilism. I’ve witnessed first-hand how many people were moved/changed by their gesture this year. Bands, of course, are much more than the sum of the sounds they make.
Note: The record I listened to the most this year was Omni’s last one but that was technically 2017. The music I listened to the most time-wise on tour was Dead/Phish tapings (I can hear my bandmates grumbling) but that's a different story...The Dead devotion is serious but Phish is something I have been 'trying out for a friend.' :)
Bodega - 2018/2019 Tour Dates
12.20.18 w/ Honduras, Gustaf @ ROUGH TRADE. BK, NYC.
2.5.19 w/ TBA @ UNTER DECK, Munich. GERMANY.
2.6.19 w/ TBA @ BOGEN F, Zurich, SWITZERLAND.
2.7.19 w/ TBA @ BAD BONN, 3186 Dudingen, SWITZERLAND.
2.8.19 FESTIVSL GENERIQ w/ TBA @ Besancron, FRANCE.
2.9.19 w/ TBA @ LA POUDRIERE, Belfort Cedex, FRANCE.
2.10.19 w/ TBA @ LE CONSORTIUM, Dijon, FRANCE.
2.11.19 w/ TBA @ KULTURBRUCKEN JUNGBUSCH, Mannheim, GERMANY.
2.12.19 w/ GONG GONG GONG @ ROTONDE BOTANIQUE, Brussels, BELGIUM.
2.14.19 w/ GONG GONG GONG @ RESCUE ROOMS, Nottingham, UK.
2.15.19 w/ GONG GONG GONG @ THE ART SCHOOL, Glasgow, UK.
2.16.19 w/ GONG GONG GONG @ WHELAN’S, Dublin, IRELAND.
2.18.19 w/ GONG GONG GONG @ YES, Manchester, UK.
2.19.19 w/ GONG GONG GONG @ BRUDENELL SOCIAL CLUB, Leeds, UK.
2.20.19 w/ GONG GONG GONG @ SCALA, London, UK.
2.22.19 w/ TBA @ LA NOUVELLE VAGUE, St. Malo, FRANCE.
2.23.19 w/ TBA @ LE POINT EPHEMERE, Paris, FRANCE.
2.25.19 w/ GONG GONG GONG @ ROTOWN, Rotterdam, NETHERLANDS.
2.26.19 w/ GONG GONG GONG @ BITTERZOET, Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS.
2.28.19 w/ TBA @ BERGHAIN KANTINE, Berlin, GERMANY.
3.1.19 w/ TBA @ STENGADE, Copenhagen, DENMARK.