Wes Eisold’s (American Nightmare, Cold Cave) top LPs of 2018 (and more)
Wes Eisold had a busy 2018, with the release of the first American Nightmare album in 15 years, a new Cold Cave EP, and tours with both bands. We asked him what music he liked this year, and he picked the new albums by Low, Dead Can Dance, Daughters, Spiritualized, and Adult., and wrote intriguing commentary on each of them. As a bonus, he also paid tribute to Todd Youth and Mark E. Smith, both of whom we sadly lost this year.
Read on for Wes' reflection on 2018...
Low - Double Negative
Low is living in their own universe and its such a lonely and beautiful place to be. It's not over crowded. It's sparse and there’s room to reflect and do nothing. I always imagine true comfort as an indifference to armageddon. This sounds like that. Double Negative makes perfect sense in their progression but its skips a few steps in its bravery. I first connected as a listener in 2001 with Things We Lost in the Fire, which, similarly to Double Negative, had a way of making you feel alone and warm at the same time. At 22 I was alone, living in a closet in Boston and had no real warmth, lying with my knees up, headphones on, staring at a lightbulb, somewhere between cheap speed and weed. Songs like Low’s "Sunflower" gave me that warmth I needed then. 17 years later this and Low is soundtracking the spectrum of the human condition. It’s very downtown sounding, very closing credits. Low is a lost satellite. Low is a moon landing. Low is a planet leaving this orbit. It's really so nice to enjoy a full album. It's really so nice to make a decision to invest emotionally as a listener and to be rewarded for that time and time again.
Dead Can Dance - Dionysus
I spent a lot of 2011/2012 walking around NYC with headphones on listening to Dead Can Dance. To me it was the greatest juxtaposition of worlds, seeing one and hearing another. In that setting it's so easy to go on forever, like being lost in the desert, from 110th to 1st st. Shortly after I moved to another desert, Los Angeles, and shortly after met my partner, Amy. On one of our first dates we went to see Dead Can Dance. Another person who was playing in Cold Cave at the time knew that I had two tickets to the show, and a few days before asked me for my spare one. I said that I met someone that I was really into and had already planned to take them, sorry. Said person threw a fit about that, a re-occurring theme, and shortly after that we stopped talking and working together. Amy joined Cold Cave, went on tour from then until now, and we started a family together. Many thanks to "The Host Of Seraphim." Needless to say, DCD holds a special place in our hearts, in our personal lives, and in our admiration for Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry as artists. Dionysus is an extension of all of that to me, with songs "The Mountain" and "The Invocation" fulfilling what we crave from these two.
Daughters - You Won’t Get What You Want
Well I don’t know what I was expecting but I wasn’t expecting this. Daughters is complicated for me which has very little to do with them. Both American Nightmare and Some Girls toured extensively with them so I’ve seen them a hundred times. I held them as people and artists in the highest regard. I’ve seen them physically threatened by closed minded neanderthals and never back down at least a dozen times. When I was at my lowest and in full breakdown, Lex held me for a minute which got me through to another day. At least a few times I went to Providence to just sit around these people because I enjoyed their energy and realness so much. They were the epitome of hardcore to me but were never really a hardcore band. But that was a long time ago, and I don’t keep up with my past, and they broke up, and we all go our own ways.
If you’ve heard this record you already know that it's the shit. You already know that it's their best. You already know that they’re without contemporaries, like they’ve always been, but all of a sudden, years later, there’s hard evidence in this album. I can’t even think of another rock n roll band at this moment that matters. People keep recommending these boring groups that make "crazy" faces in obnoxious videos and merely allude to referential substance. All these groups are doomed to me. You can see they want fame. There’s a genuine darkness to Daughters and an inescapable infamy.
Spiritualized - And Nothing Hurt
Transcending music, surpassing religion. The last few Spiritualized records have reached me in the same way: I like them, but then after seeing the new songs live, I love them. A few months ago at the Orpheum theater, they began the show with a handful of old favorites, and then performed the new album in its entirety. There’s just a total flaw in the human code that Spiritualized isn’t playing stadiums. I think the world needs to come together and thank this person for everything he’s done and is doing. There is poetry in the process and detail. I don’t know if this record is underappreciated. I suspect so but I hope not. There is a resolve inside of it and I think it will age as one of his best.
Adult. - This Behavior
I guess the theme in my picks for 2018 are groups that have been around for me. I’m not purposely ignoring new artists but music saved my life and as a listener I’m living in loyalty and debt to those who’ve given so much to me, so as long as they continue to do so I’m still going to be there. I first heard the Detroit duo Adult. through Gibby Miller who co-runs Dais Records, in 2000, at his weekly party in Boston, START! No one was doing what Adult. was doing then and certainly not as well. They were electronic and minimal but there was a punk energy and urgency to their early singles that was never as real in their surrounding circles. This element never faded in their music as they’ve grown, outliving a hundred trends, as working non-comforming artists. This Behavior is spectacular in that it's abrasive and beautiful, totally heroic in its own right. Probably my favorite moment of the album is the track "Silent Exchange" (which is a ballad of sorts harkening Organisation era OMD) into "Perversions of Humankind” (which destroys live with its hypno Songs Of Love and Lust era Chris and Cosey arpeggios). Certainly influential to my tastes and the confidence to start Cold Cave, modern on their own plane yet vintage in its English and Detroit influences. Really wonderful to hold this LP as their first release on Dais Records almost 20 years after hearing them from the co-founder of the label.
Todd Youth - (5/15/71 - 10/27/18)
I first met Todd back stage at a Danzig show years ago. It was Halloween and I had just come from a Herzog lecture - You know that bootleg Danzig skull shirt that says HERZOG? I lived that night! Anyway, I was introduced to Todd which was exciting as he had been such a part of my musical repertoire, and he was quiet but polite, strumming his guitar pre-show on a couch by himself. Think about this person: He left home for NYC and started playing in Agnostic Front when he was 12 or 13. Warzone. Murphy’s Law. Danzig. He played a few shows in Motorhead. He played in Cheap Trick etc etc etc. To me, as a fan, Todd represented the rewards life could grant you if you followed your passion without compromise.
Fast forward to this year, we re-connected when I asked Todd’s current band Fireburn to play some West Coast shows with American Nightmare and a lesser known fantastic hardcore band, Torso. On the way from LA to SF for the final show, Torso’s van broke down somewhere between the two cities. They texted Todd to let everyone know that they were either going to be late or miss the show. Todd and his band were an hour and a half north of Torso and decided to turn around on the highway to go find them and get them, adding three hours to their trip, just to help a young band play a show at a punk club. They ended up playing and the show went off. To me that was just the ultimate. I think people should know about that quality he had.
We knew each other only casually but his passing left me with sadness and curiosity. I can’t really speculate but I know that Todd, like a lot of us, was living inside of a constant search. It's easy to view others who have influenced us as achieved or successful, but in reality the reason we keep moving and creating is because we are living in an existential hunt, to kill or be killed, to create meaning as to not give in to the meaninglessness of it all.
Thank you for the music Todd Youth.
Mark E. Smith - (3/5/57 - 1/24/18)