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06.01.23 REC ME: FOLK (June 2023: Chapter 6) 05.01.23 JohnnyoftheWell recs me (May 2023: Chap
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JohnnyoftheWell recs me (May 2023: Chapter 5)

Hi. My name is Ben. I know nothing about Jonathan of the Wellski [JOTW]. To educate me, Johnny will rec albums. I will listen to 1 album a day in May 2023. I will then describe the album that I have heard in this list. Kind regards, Ben ..... EDIT: THERE IS A BONUS ROUND IN THE FIRST COMMENT THAT YOU SHOULD READ IF YOU WANT TO RUIN MY YEAR
Slanted and Enchanted

ROUND 1 (1st thru 5th) - FOUNDATION - This is the speed date / lightening round of foundational calling card bullshit.


Jon says: "I heard this record for the first time in either the same or a closely adjacent sitting to Remain in Life. One of the two is a perfect 5/5 masterpiece and one is not. One of the two taught me how far a little multicultural dabbling and forward-thinking production can go, and the other taught me everything I had ever needed to know about how to embody every last lick of the caustic disaffection and perma-irony of the white trash literati stereotype. One of the two is in the FOUNDATION section."

Ben says: For years and years and years this has been on my hit list butcherboy scolded me relentlessly for being such a emo revival junkie and not having heard more foundational sloppy sincere good good indie things like this. REACTION TIME: this is good thank fuck. Love the earnest jangly shenanigans and especially the lil cute secret melodies buried low and high in the mix. Uber textural production love the fret buzz and that this sounds live tracked even though apparently it wasn't entirely. Weird mix of reference points (something of early weezer and modest mouse and pixies and capnjazz and other bands) but it comes together in its own vibe and its like an awkward hug that I dont want to let go pls dont let go. You have been kind to me mr wells a very nice first rec. Are we rating these ima rate this it will probably be a 4+ when i let it grow on me with more than erm 2 listens so erm [4] for now watch this space.
2Shiina Ringo
Shouso Strip


Jon says: "This is the best pop album of the 21st century and maybe the other ones too and largely responsible for me taking the best part a year off after my undergrad to grind my way into the japanese language (though that said i could not quote a single lyric from this aside from the Kurt/Courtney line and the song i mutilated at karaoke guess which). You have rated its successor sacrilegiously low, but this one is borderline noise rock so I will trust the idiot force of guitar music to do what intricate arrangements of unorthodox instruments cannot."

Ben says: What is this is this noise pop is noise pop a thing I think it is and it is this. Way too much going on for me to form a grownup adult opinion after 2 listens but I like it!!! I got all choked up on the opener idk why her voice is sick will be in touch tomorrow probs with more… [TBC]

Update (03.05.23): Whoever did the sound engineering re the bass on this here LP is a GOD. If I were to be critical, which I don't enjoy, I would say some of the arrangements here border on saccharine but actually I fucking love them Shiina's delivery over the top of them is glorious and earnest and I don't know what she is saying but it makes me feel alive and good. The soundtrack to the best anime that I've never seen. [4]


Jon says: "This is profound sadboy of the abyssal recovering-goth-who-likes-Floyd strain, and it taught 16 y/o me a vitally important lesson about the potential for emotionally overwrought music to soothe rather than stimulate (though it doesn’t exactly hold back when it does go for catharsis)."

Ben says: I wanted to slap the fuck out of this in revenge for your weak sauce take JONATHAN with regards to streetlightmanifesto and tomas' work as frontman and unique and utter bae given that YO the lyrics here take exactly the same heart-on-sleeve-and-blood-everywhere approach (w/ v. different delivery, granted) BUT then i remembered that i am an music sponge not a rock and i fucking love this as well i hate you. Your description is perfect and true - loads of Floyd in the vox, epic soothing cathartic PURPLE bangers throughout, just incredibly elegant and well thought out compositions, and the wishywashy bare my soul lyrical bollocks is right up my ass/alley. [4]

Will I give anything here a rating that is not a [4]?!?!?!?! STAY TUNED.
4Sonic Youth
Daydream Nation


Jon says: "I was toying with a load of noise-drone adjacent records from the Stereolabs, Unwounds and idk Goslings of the world and then realised you don’t have a single SY album rated. What. the fuck? I’m cheating on this because it’s neither their most formative nor personally important in my exp, but it is the easiest, most comprehensive and conveniently most popular so um in you go now you can learn how it feels to be Cool if you were 15 years in the past at any given moment hm."

Ben says: Hmmmm ima chew on this a while longer. Big album, big legacy, big expectations, big guilt list album this I've been meaning to try it got ages. I also only really know Sonic Youth as the guys that were dicks to Nardwuar, which is an unhelpful starting point. First listen was rocky - a lot going on, clever transitions between regular everyday normal song and FUZZ that were cool but hurt my little head, not sure I enjoyed. Second listen went better. Hmmm. [TBC]

Update (05.05.23): Ye idk, I love the songcraft here - the innovative mix of alt rock and noisy excursions that grow so organically out of the former are very cool - but I just don't enjoy listening to this that much, aside from a few choice cuts, which is the ultimate test ig. Very Velvet Underground in the vox in a way I just don't enjoy. HOWEVER, i do get a similar vibe that I got of The Lonesome Crowded West which I initially simply didnt "get" and then slowly over literally YEARS grew into one of my fave albums, soooooo i will check in on this every now and then to see how she doing. [3.3]
5The Flaming Lips
Clouds Taste Metallic


Jon says: "ever been like happy but actually sad because you secretly know you’re using ephemeral moments of positivity as a wall to block out otherwise crippling levels of unaddressed melancholy you don’t have the maturity to face up to yeah hahaha fucking love baloons and sugar"

Ben: I love LOVE your description johnny this has that crying smiling through clasped hands rocking back and forth screaming IMOKAYIMOKAYIMOKAY thing nailed down bottled and ready to be sold. A joy to listen to, unpretentious and giddy with conviction in my fave way, and something I strongly suspect will continue to dig its candy-coated hooks deeper into me over the coming months (the more listens the more goodness). [4] fuck it tho this is one mental breakdown away from 4.3+ and god knows im cold
Fast Forward Eats the Tape

ROUND 2 (6th thru 10th) - CONVERSATION - Having learned something (hopefully) from my recs to you and your recs to me Johnny boy, we shall now attempt to give the other more tailored recommendations based upon the high-level sense of what the other now actually enjoys eek!


Jon says: "Why ska when you can SKATE? Um, yes. This album rips and riffs and has got that Not Like Other Punks tech sheen (but not too much prod gloss)! Belvedere Manifesto!!"

Ben says: Somewhat aghast that you would give Streetlight’s lyrics/vox such a harsh bashing in and then serve this up to me as a Ska-ish rebuttal. The Blink 182 meets Set Your Goals ish nasal barking on display here is grating, though it’s not out of the ordinary for the state punk ting ig. The riffs, however, I love - big and chunky and dynamic and produced with spicy finger licking grit. They alone save this from the sin bin. [3.5]
7Leonard Cohen
Songs of Leonard Cohen


Jon says: "For a moment, I beat around the bush for a candid folk response with non-optional lyrical engagement, but then I realised you have not a single Leonard Cohen to your name. Well! Huh."

Ben says: Well damn. I've been intimidated by this album for years, and have therefore kept it beyond arms reach, but shucks its just lovely. Opener and closer are EEEEK so good gosh, but the whole thing slaps tbqh. Sepia surreal melancholic air to the whole thing, yet kinda comforting - clearly the foundation that Nick Drake / Elliott Smith etc. built on. Them lyrics = poems, w/ plucked nylon accents, but the backdrop didn't need to be/do more. I have still not fully digested this - I have spent the weekend laying laminate flooring, and I was born without opposable thumbs or common sense, so you can guess the knock on effect such an endeavour has had on the time I've had to dedicate to this LP - but am certain it'll be 4.3+ when I do. Watch this space etc.
8Carissa's Wierd
Ugly But Honest: 1996-1999


Jon says: "And on the other end of that spectrum, let’s address the melancholy beanie-boi in the room here with some no-holds-barred sadcore. Conventional wisdom holds that the admittedly marginally stronger Songs About Leaving be rec’d as the obligatory Carissa’s Wierd pick, but that one’s depression is laid on thick to the point of smothering if you’re not in the right headspace. This is just a collection of mostly fantastic standalone tracks to make you feel better about feeling worse xo"

Ben says: I'm not crying, you're crying. These past few months I've been listening to music exclusively from genres that I know diddly squat about (Electronic, Jazz, Hip Hop and Black Metal, for those interested (hi mom!)). I have (to my surprise) loved it, and intend to do it for the remainder of the year. This, however, feels like a long overdue homecoming. Fuck. Johnny, come to Cambridge and hug me son. [4.5]
9The Modern Lovers
The Modern Lovers


Jon says: "As far as your proclivity for upstanding young men of candour and melancholy goes, uh, I have absolutely no idea what you’re going to make of Jonathan Richman lol. Will he and his righteous rockin jams make you cackle or cry? What to do, what to do - his sheer levels of loveable GOOF are a must though, given the abundance of such on your first 3 rec to me."

Ben says: Damn BOY he a GOOF; that’s a GOOF ass BOY. First impressions were awful but second spin was a lot kinder to me. Vox/lyrics turned from grating to kinda charming, and I stopped trying to pick apart the instrumentation and just enjoy the jangly, spindly 3-chord guitar shenanigans. The sparse production provides this with a lot of space to breathe, which feels necessary; if the vox were higher in the mix, or the guitars weren’t such butter, I’d 2 this and run away. For now, she’s quite alright! [3.5]
10The Goslings
Grandeur of Hair


Jon says: "I was going to go with Nadja - Touched for this slot as a response to the crushing wall of heavy meditation you dished me with Admiral Angry, but I had this on just now by chance and remembered that it a) exists and b) tops Nadja (though I’d recommend both versions of that album too). It is loud long perverse noise and it can cleanse you will you let it."

Ben says: For context: am exhausted on a 3 hour train back from Birmingham after a full day in court and my head hurts god it hurts and I need to pee and there is no toilet on this piece of shit train but hey I have this album oh wait oh no ahhhhhh my brain is seeping out of my nose. In a different setting, I suspect I could extract alot more warmth out of this thick loud purple chonk, and, even in these less than ideal circumstances, I love the low mixed vox buried beneath the sea of BASS. Hypnotic + easy to slip into consciouslessness w/pleasantness. Steals a cheeky [3.5] from clutches of deth.
11Art Bears
The World As It Is Today

ROUND 3 (11th thru 15th) - CAST AGAINST TYPE - Jonathan has rec'd me albums from genres/artists/places that he feels do not accord with his usual musical tastes/preferences/etc. but which he still nonetheless simps for. LETS GO.


Jon says: "Lol apocalyptic prog with extremely foregrounded anti-capitalist critiques. Worst pitch for anything ever yes. Art Bears have got it. These three all come from a ridiculous musical pedigree and this album is savage. Fuck you and your prog rock etcetc"

Ben says: So first off the vox on "Freedom" are the most horrifying and perfect harsh vocals of any person in any band in any genre literally ever holy shit i think i stopped breathing. Literally everything else about this record, I hate (lol). Deliberately inaccessible in an admirable/impressive way (congratulations yes this sounds fucked and apocalyptic and morose mission accomplished for sure) but i never ever ever ever want to sit down and listen to it again which is not a great sign. Lyrics are incredibly well written and brimming with sardonic wit and spicy hot (good) takes, which is a shame when on a purely sonic level this is poop. Probably being too harsh, and when my worklife is being less stressy I promise I will give this another go, but, erm -- [2].
Dreaming Neon Black


Jon says: "9 out of 10 times I metalpost will be a meme-driven or worse but uh this album is genuinely fantastic prog-thrash and deserves universal reppage. Was going to rec The Godless Endeavor because it has lower frequencies, slicker prod, less overwhelming irl-substantiated trauma (read up on this one) and is overall easier to listen to, but um this one very slightly better fits the bill as a metal album for people actually like metal."

Ben says: BIG enjoyment! Not quite what I was expecting. I think I associate prog thrash implicitly (and incorrectly) with tech thrash, which this isnt, but it is many other things!.! Vox are dramatic and OTT and silly, but actually work well to accentuate the unusual sombre narrative. Adore the guitar tone and production - messier than I usually go, given my bread and butter is that smooth wrinkle-free Vektor thing, but again it works, particularly in these atypical song structures. The only thing I'm still struggling to get past are the vox (David Draiman on crack vibes eek) but i suspect a handful more listens will break that weird association. [3.7]
13Skinny Puppy
Too Dark Park


Jon says: "I’ve had an, uh, rocky relationship with industrial, and there’s an entire lineage of artists in the realm of NIN/Ministry/HEALTH that I consider midkey embarrassments to anyone who tunes into em (actively proud to see a total lack of ratings for all three on your list). Skinny Puppy, on the other hand, kinda very much fuck and are surprisingly melodically accomplished on this record and are both overlooked and underrated as of late - the legacy and legend are all there, but no-one credible actively goes to bat for them and this is sad. You can be that person! This can be a formative dark fuck you can do wicked deeds now."

Ben says: I think this is the first time I've sat down and tried to listen to an actual industrial record front to back - this therefore unfortunately has to bear the brunt of my shellshock + unfamiliarity / mild confusion with the genre's apparent hallmarks. HOWEVER, despite this, I'm kinda fucking with it. Vox sound like a comic book villain and will require some getting used to, but the instrumental patchwork here is incredible holy shit. THICC fruity synths and hectic mechanical crunching that come together seamlessly. Far more melodic and accessible than I was expecting. Watch this space - I'm pretty sure Flug used to stan for these guys v. vocally and prolifically, but gimmie a few months and maybe I'll be picking up that bat. [3.5]
14The Necks


Jon says: "Aquatic is sophisticated long music for people with enormous patience and ginormous fishtanks in their basement living rooms um couldn’t be me."

Ben says: Beautiful serene underwater vibes hey look there's a fishie hi fishie. I already have something of a taste for this kinda long-form hardly-changing psych-adjacent thing (I'd put that Causa Sui album in the same vague general area) but never quite //this// stubbornly static. It did not (i repeat, did not!) work as an accompaniment to mowing the lawn earlier, but as a Sunday evening swan song with a beer as the sun goes down, she is quite lovely. It is more than a [3.5], but I still have the angry sound of german steel reverberating in my head when I hear this - that unfortunate association will, I'm hoping, subside, at which time I will be more generous to this very cute slice of kraut/jazz. [3.5]
15John Zorn
The Circle Maker


Jon says: "not really sure what would be considered an uncharacteristic move to end this run, so I’m gonna dump 2 hours of klezmer on you instead. You should be conversant in a few of these pieces thanks to Electric Masada but hmm some of these arrangements take a bit of warming up to good luck"

Ben says: Well this is just front to back slappers. V minimalistic toolkit at play, but rich and curvy all the same. Feels like a helpful cheat sheet to help better understand what some of the clusterfuck that is Electric Masada is actually rooted in. No I have not fully digested 2 hours of winding strings in one day but this ticks more than enough boxes to satisfy me that she’s a keeper. [4]
16Kazumoto Endo
While You Were Out

ROUND 4 (16th thru 19th) - HOSTILITY - JOTW recs me things i dont want him to rec me. Pray for my ears.


Jon says: "this is an hour of harsh noise w/ occasional meme samples it is hostile but also hilarious um ok"

Ben says: lol fuck yes I would have put good money on me hating this. to my surprise, I don’t! love how self aware and playful Endo is with these pieces, which are all sumptuously textural and gleefully scatterbrained and tinnitus-triggering-ly shrill. The goofy meme samples that pop up (did I hear R2D2 what) are cute and make the journey a great degree more bearable for someone with no background or (i thought) interest in harsh noise. Oddly therapeutic - I literally had the worst fucking day at work and this of all things managed to bring a smile to my face. Neat! [3.7]
17Seiko Oomori


Jon says: "o did u rec me folk music u thought was raw and sad? cute to assume my nerves still register those things on conventional frequencies after that absolute hell this shit has wreaked on them over the yrs. this is pure paintstripper and has twice as many balls as the entire sadboi canon combined. trax 1/2/6 lyrics mandatory."

Ben says: Insane.

I had loads of cool and interesting thoughts re this yesterday when I jammed the heck out of it and most have fallen out of my brain erm ...

OH YES RIGHT erm THIS is folk INCARNATE ... like there is no barrier between the artist and the listener this is just pure fucking turbulent hellfire, inner demons spewed everywhere via scratchy guitar, mental collapse in hot PINK, everything that the genre should be, intense screms, literal heart severed from sleeve and bleeding all over the fucking carpet lyricism, the sandpapery unglossed production, ahhhhhhhhhhhh--

Particularly the cute ricocheting vocal arrangement on Bowl where she just keeps shifting the pitch up and up and up is sensational, and obviously the big finale of the closer is bat shit balls and heck crazy i have never seen or heard a performance like it. Completely incoherent and HOSTILE for sure but also full of personality and a living breathing soul. [4.5]


Jon says: "this is an obnoxious electropop overload you will like it or you won’t (and at the very least the prod + vocal chops are watertight vindication for any future occasions you find yourself rolling your eyes at whatever vapid Lights/Grimes bs the site basics get a groupdrool going over). it came to mind soon after Carpenter Brut so maybe this one is kind."

Ben says: Like! Get the CB reference point yes. Much prefer this when it goes bat shit crazy fruit loops candy coated pop tacky yes ness vs the softer cuts. I enjoyed am tired will give better thoughts later. [3.5]
Live II


Jon says: "not sure this 4-day hatefuck has been spiteful enough um here is 120+ minutes of noisy psychedelic improvised death. keiji haino is a living legend and one of the most merciless pleb filters unprofitably available. man’s ear for timbre, disruption and raw beauty of greater rawness than raw ugliness is absurd. probably a top 10 guitarist. this is not the best or most accessible entry point (Live I) but there sure af are less forgiving ways in."

Ben says: Nope. [1.5]

Patience testing and ear piercing and just all round unpleasant in a bad bad bad way. I am guessing that is part of the appeal - it does interesting things with texture and momentum ig, but i just hate it. The only thing here that utterly flummoxes me.
Cafe Reggio

20 May

Cafe Reggio

21 May

Cafe Reggio

22 May

Cafe Reggio

23 May

Cafe Reggio

24 May

Cafe Reggio

25 May

Cafe Reggio

26 May

Cafe Reggio

27 May


aka the day that someone crashed their motorcycle into our car (a bad day)
Cafe Reggio

28 May

29bloodthirsty butchers

Round 5 - FINALE: in which jonathan recommends me some more albums

FINALE [29 May]

Jon says: "You crashed your car and extended your holiday in a sad exciting way oh no. Um. This is a long roadtrip-viable nostalgia as non-innocuous choking device phxc/emo/alt rock record that tracks the development of moods through a year and turns them into all the melancholy upbeat emotions it is epic and definitive and every bit the that-kinda-90s-rock classic as your Siamese Dreams and Tens and whatever Dino Jrs I hope it improves your journey let’s cry"

Ben says: Phew boy you are sending me out with a hug and a smooch aren't you? Lovely nostalgia-tinged alt rock emo shenanigans yes yes yes i see. V cool months of the year ting going on that i suspect i will need to do a lyrical deep dive at somepoint to actually ///get/// but july certainly sounds warmer than march. There is alot of music here and i am in a bad headspace, so re 'comfort' this album does very well, but re 'can i actually analyse these songs that appear to cross-refer to one another occasionally in clever ways and have structures that are more complex than verse chorus verse chorus' erm i must confess i am inept. I do however ENJOY and particularly like the line this walks between clean bangers and unpolished/vivid/inthemoment rough edges - very wet oil painting dripping in real time. She gets a safe [3.5] for now but I WILL BE BACK also Jonathan translate pls bb
30Hop Along
Get Disowned

FINALE [30 May]

Jon says: "How in the shit do you of all people have no Hop Along ratings? They get closer to easily marketable indie_chic as they go on, but this album is pretty much catnip to everything I’ve heard from on the reclist I received (raw/wilfully wayward vocal stylings over grounded songwriting and uncomfortable-graspable themes, folk punk flirtation, lots of noise, end of the day shrug-cry, c a n d o u r etc.) and there is no way I can’t rec it as such."

Ben says: To answer your question: they are a group that have always been on my periphery and for some reason never came into focus. Thoughts: the high points are sky high holy shit (opener and closer goosebumps etc.). Very big very screm very cathartic i was not ready for this oh no. Has that 'dance like no one is watching via visceral vox' thing down to a fine art. Needs time to grow following chewing and munching w/ sadness, as many of the fuzzy crunchy instrumental tings are not as immediate as I often go for because.... [3.7] placeholder

FINALE [31 May]

Jon says: "unsure of how to finish this tbh, so here is the best sentimental sunset album. it is full of warmth and light. it has the best of all good things: arguably the best shoegaze record, maybe one of the best electronic records, easily the best indie record that dabble in electronic. It’s also a colossal mono nostalgiaware daydream, and if it were an Anglophone album it would probably be soppy shite, but google them lyrics - surprising number of wry and/or profound moments here. Luv. It is over is it sad?"

Ben says: Sending me off with one final hug thank you these have been some very cosy albums to close this out, and this is the gem of all 3. Warm radiance sun on my face and im smiling im smiling yay. Japanese shoegaze? I had heard good things. This justifies those good things that I had heard. Very danceable in a way I wasn't expecting and I am all for it. [4]

How do I feel as the sunsets on our time together, Jonathan? Uh, mixed. This was perhaps the most challenging of the monthly list series I've done so far. When bashing my way through a particular genre solidly for a month, I've found I've gotten more comfortable as the days have rolled by. With this, you've continued to mix up the formula w/ regularity and my head and heart are still spinning. V. cool experience though - our tastes overlap far more that I'd thought despite the fact that we also seem to clash in v. fundamental areas, so (erm) oh no!?! Seeing you rub varying amount of poop into my formative musical touchstones on the sister list to this list has been more uncomfortable than I'd hoped and so we'll have to postpone the wedding, but I'll certainly be poking you to find more stuff like all the [3.7+] records here (particularly 16 yo what i am still shook). Until next time x
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