Kip Berman has had a busy 2018. His group The Pains of Being Pure at Heart covered Tom Petty's Full Moon Fever in full, and he put out his first solo record as The Natvral. “I want to write songs and play them for people," Kip told us when the project was announced, "and forget about all the other nonsense that gets in the way of that.” The record is much closer to Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen than it is to anything Kip made with Pains -- it's just him and his guitar -- but his way with a melody and a turn-of-phrase remains sharp as ever. You can stream his EP, and watch his new video for "Home" (directed by Remy Holwick), below.

Kip has played a few shows as The Natvral that have just been him and his guitar, but he'll make his live debut with a band on Monday, December 17 at Baby's All Right which is the Kanine Records holiday party. Also playing will be Nicole Yun of Eternal Summers who will be debuting her solo project with a band that includes Doug Gillard (Guided by Voices) and Jacob Sloan (TPOBPAH). Also on the bill are Canadian band Tallies and Honey Cutt, plus DJs in the front room (including Maz of NYC Popfest and this writer). It's free with RSVP and there's a hosted open bar from 8-9 PM.

We also asked Kip for his Top 10 album of 2018 and he gave us a list, complete with commentary, that includes Dilly Dally, Tierra Whack, Dear Nora, Black Belt Eagle Scout, MGMT, Hatchie, and gives an advance plug for Tallies' upcoming LP too. "These are good records that I’ve heard," Kip says. "There are also a lot more good records that I haven’t heard yet, so don't think I'm ignoring or excluding anyone [on purpose]." Check out his list below.




Black Belt Eagle Scout - Mother of My Children
Katherine Paul is a super good songwriter and can get a lot across with an admirable economy of sounds and language. I’ve been thinking a lot about songs that travel well, that make sense in a lot of contexts - or without context. I think this record appeals to a lot of different types of people for a lot of different reasons - but it appeals to me, because it feels like a lived-in folk record. The music seems connected to specific parts of the earth, the people she's encountered and a reality that is both totally other than my own, but also relatable. These are songs anyone could play, but only someone as special as Katherine could write. That's a rare combo.

Dilly Dally - Heaven
God, I don’t know if rock music in 2018 gets any better than Heaven. It’s fashionable for everyone to say they are a pop band (I mean, "guilty" ok?). But this album really rules me, and has good lyrics and this visceral quality that makes you think, “I love rock music - or at least I do when Dilly Dally does it.”

Dear Nora - Skulls Example
Dear Nora have been one of my favorite bands since when I lived in Portland, Oregon and I’d go see all ages shows at The Magic Marker House (where Katy Davidson lived) and Hutch Harris (Urban Legends, Hutch and Kathy, The Thermals), The Softies, Jona from YACHT, Kissing Book, and loads other great indiepop groups either lived or hung out all the time. I can’t even begin to express how formative this scene was to me and how it opened up this world of regional, alternative to alternative music.

Of all those excellent bands, Dear Nora was my favorite. But the cool thing is, as Katy got older she started writing different types of songs - folkier and less rigidly upbeat in sound. Instead of losing interest, it matched up with my own changing tastes. This new record is absolutely stunning, probably my favorite of the year. The song “Morning Glories” alone is SO good and always is stuck in my head. Katy is incredibly well respected among other bands (I see a new generation of artists cite her a lot), but the truth is I think it’s pretty hard for her (like most everyone in bands) to tour and do music full time. So, go support her if she plays in your town or just listen to her music because her artistic journey continues to ascend - she still hasn’t reached the top of her Mountain Rock.

MGMT - Little Dark Age
This band is COOL. But the music world is uncool sometimes cuz most writers care more about status, commercial career narratives, trends, etc. But just watch the video for “Me and Michael” - these guys are operating on some higher level of consciousness, humor and artistry. It's so good. And I’m tired of hearing about how they had “hits” or whatever. You know, WHEN they had hits, people still gave this band such a hard time - FOR HAVING HITS. You can’t win, but I know at least one other person who can look me in the eye and say “MGMT IS MY FAVORITE BAND.” And I’m glad for that, because they are geniuses and played a song called “SONG FOR DAN TREACY” on Saturday Night Live.

Tierra Whack - Whack World
Even beyond the music - which is like TONY MOLINA level concise and clever - the visual component of this record was maybe-even-more-mind blowing. I was just in awe when I watched it. SO CREATIVE, skillfully executed and stunning. I don't know if she's part of a scene of like minded people, but it seems pretty unlikely there are any "like-minded" people on earth.

Wild Pink - Yolk In the Fur
This band hits the sweet spot. They have well-written jangling songs about feelings. I am ALWAYS going to fall for that.

Frankie Cosmos - Vessel
Greta sometimes shares a practice space with me, and damn - she is so responsible, kind and a wonderful roommate. Her songwriting is super good and hyper creative (everyone knows that already duh). But what really makes it stand out is that it's the rare thing that I listen to all by myself and can play to my 2.5 year old daughter. Besides ABBA, The Supremes and Jackson 5 - there aren’t a lot of artists in both of those categories.

Massage - S/T
My old bandmate Alex Naidus put out a great album about suburban, not-so-young adult feelings this year. I don’t live in Los Angeles or have a weed pen, but I think you don’t even need those things to appreciate some high quality jangle jams.

Tallies - S/T
This album is actually coming out in January 2019, but those releases always get sort of forgotten about at the end of the year, so i want to give some love to this top notch Canadian dream pop band. I went on tour with these guys and am on the same label (full disclosure), but honestly I’d love ‘em even if they weren’t my friends. They remind me a bit of The Sundays and Aztec Camera - but they have their own thing going on for sure. Sarah's vocals are great, and a couple of the dudes in the band look like they might've been in a hockey fight or three.

Tony Molina - Kill The Lights
I love Tony Molina! Shout out to Slumberland Records too! He writes great, classic sounding songs. But they're not just classic sounding - they ought to be considered classic songs themselves - especially this new record. People get fixated on the duration of his songs, but honestly - like Tierra Whack - it's cool to be able to listen to an entire record in 15 minutes that feels like it's overflowing with good ideas. This is a total winner, lots of descending chords, gentle vocals and beautiful harmonies. Keep up the good work Tony!

Hatchie - Sugar and Spice EP
Ok, this is just an EP, but if you are like “what is the future of dreamy pop songs, Kip?” The answer is Hatchie. I hope she puts out a full length in 2019, so that if I'm still cool enough to be asked to write top 10 lists I can put that on there too (hopefully with new records from Fear of Men, Nicole Yun of Eternal Summers solo, and Living Hour).


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