Friday, December 28, 2018

Guest List: Renee Maskin's Top 5 Things Worth Mentioning of 2018 PLUS A New Lowlight Single

Renee Maskin

It's Later In 2018 Than You Think

By Renee Maskin

[First things first. Lowlight, one of our very favorite bands around here, dropped a brand, spanking new single today. "Burkhalter" is the first single from their upcoming LP, Endless Bummer. It further melds the band's country / Americana roots with the epic, spacious, synth-driven rock they explored on Born to Run. The song is nominally about an unseen character from The Big Lebowski, but Renee hints that it may be more than just a bit autobiographical. Give the song a listen and go see Lowlight tonight when they close out Night 1 of What a Wonderful Year 2k18 at Wonder Bar in Asbury Park. -- CoolDad]

I am lucky enough to be able to call Jim a good friend, and he was kind enough to ask me to write a little "year-end recap" of sorts, which is bold, because he knows what a sailor's mouth I've got on me; and it doesn't go away in print. But I'll try and keep it somewhat clean for ya, Jim.

Renee Maskin

Most people with ears and / or eyes would agree that 2018 was a weird one. Our smart devices are listening to us (and apparently sometimes recording us), the stock market hasn't seen this bad of a turn since the Great Depression, and Prince is still dead. And that's barely scratching the ever-itchy surface that is politics as of late.

More positively, some of this #MeToo stuff has shaken loose some really scummy people; and, while that whole thing remains all kinds of complicated, I think it's been a long time coming and we might be off to a positive start with it. Also, a second Red Dead Redemption installment finally came out, and New Jersey remains one of the country's leaders in glitter production. So it's not just doom and gloom out there.

As for me, the nucleus of my own atom, Lowlight kept things pretty consistently busy. We played with art punk royalty, Jon Langford (Mekons), in one of our favorite spots, the Old Franklin Schoolhouse. We opened for Twin Peaks at the Sea.Hear.Now Fest, with all their frenetic sweating / swooning fans extending their energy to our set. And, of course, we got to go on an East Coast run with Pretenders, who treated us like road family, dropped a little knowledge on us while we were out there, and just generally remain cool-as-all-hell every time we cross paths.


Along the way, we put out a little EP called Born to Run (Don't worry. We all know who will always be The Boss of Asbury Park.), and a live LP, It's Later Than You Think, that road warrior Scott Maxwell tracked during our run with Pretenders. We made a really fun video in collaboration with Strauss Performing Arts in Edison, NJ, and finished out the year with a residency at the infamous John and Peter's in New Hope, PA. We've also been finishing another LP, with a single that dropped today, and just generally waging our holy war against time itself.

Converse to all of the really amazing things that happened for the band this year, some of Lowlight's members experienced tremendous losses as well. I won't get into it, but what I will say is that I'm proud to be in a group of people who are not just top-notch artistic collaborators, but who are also some really top-notch human beings. Always looking out for their families, friends, and each other, too. And they put up with me, so that's an extra gold star on them. Band Fam, 'til the end.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my "Top Five Things Worth Mentioning of 2018."

Best Record of 2018

IC-01 HanoiUnknown Mortal Orchestra

I can't say enough good things about this record. It's loud; it's beautiful. It's frantic; it's chill. Noisy psychedelic jazz funk. Just an all-around great work of art.

Best Song of 2018

"Jupiter 4," Sharon Van Etten

Holy. Shit. What a great song, and the album isn't even out yet (although, if you're like me, you have it pre-ordered). I've had "Jupiter 4" on repeat since it was released, and I can't wait to hear what comes next from SVE…

Best Movie

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs 

I mean, did we really need to wait this long for the Coen Brothers to cast Tom Waits in a movie? And, surprisingly, as brilliant and wonderful as that vignette is, it's not even the best one in the film. I sat on the edge of my seat the whole time just soaking in the pure joy of this movie. Not to be missed.


Best App Recommendation of 2018


This app has been around longer than 2018, but somebody just recommended it to Dana and Derril this year; and now we're all hooked. You pick a country you want to hear some music from and the decade in which it was released, and the app cycles through what was going on musically in that time and place. Whether we're hanging out in between recording and rehearsing or traveling around to gigs, if we're not sure what to listen to, we roll the musical dice with this Radiooooo. We're very rarely disappointed.

Best Motel Bar

Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort Hotel & Suites

The character of this place far exceeds its name. It's a weird little motel right by the beach, complete with pool, greek takeout joint, and outdoor alcoholic beverage area run by Darlene, the Patron Saint of Tiki Bars. She told us she hadn't been to the beach in four years, which is a feat in itself since it's right across the street. The whole thing was very Bukowski. Lots of characters, a few motel cats, a lot of great stories. I'd recommend a visit. Tell Darlene we say hey.

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