Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Best of 2011

I have been contemplating this post for quite some time now, and a finite answer still eludes me. While 2011 was a great, great, year for music, it seems to me that there few front runners for albums that were utterly fantastic. Albums that captivate your attention from front to back, the ones that are all killer, no filler. Ones that stay with you for if not the better part of the year, then years to come. I've been looking at other blogs lists, trying to see if there is anything I have missed and I found myself questioning why certain albums were even on such lists. People just seemed to put their faith in mediocrity, but that's fine, it's all opinions here. And I am sure people will think the same of mine. Such is life. Moving on.

Best 5 records of the year, in no particular order:
1. A.A. Bondy - Believers
2. Brain F≠ - Sleep Rough
3. Condominium - Warm Home
4. True Widow - As High As The Highest Heavens And From The Center To The Circumference Of The Earth
5. William Elliott Whitmore - Field Songs
There you have it. The 5 records that I think are perfect from front to back. Bondy and Whitmore have ceased to disappoint me, churning out near perfect records every time. Brain F
≠ wrote one of the catchiest and urgent punk records of the year. Where as Condominium punished our ears with their long awaited lp, a truly talented band. And True Widow blew me away with their blend of Shoegaze and Stoner Metal, loud, heavy, and utterly beautiful music.

Honorable Mentions: Owen - Ghost Town, David Bazan - Strange Negotiations, Omegas - Blasts of Luancy, The Men - Leave Home, Scapegoat - S/T, Pygmy Lush - Old Friends, Bonnie Prince Billy - Wolfroy Goes to Town, Weekend Nachos - Worthless, Vacant State - Fill the Void, Tenement - Napalm Dream

Best 7in/Eps of 2011 (no particular order):
1. End of a Year Self Defense Family - Everything the put out in 2011
2. Career Suicide - Cherry Beach
3. The Ropes - S/T
4. Culo - Toxic Vision
5. I can't remember, opps.
Aside from the fact that I forgot what else to throw in this category, overall I would say that I picked up a good handful of great 7in that came out this year, but this is the cream of the crop. EoaY continue to confuse with name/personal/philosophy changes, but they continue to put out incredible music. And a lot of it. Cherry Beach could be counted as a reissue, but it has two new songs on it so I say otherwise. The Repos/Ropes are back a with a bang, only slightly weirder. And Culo, a band I kind of think is annoying, blew me away with Toxic Vision.

Some bands that released damn good demos from 2011:
Bald pig, Beautiful Mother, Last Chaos, Broken Prayer

Best reissues of 2011:
Lucero - That Much Further West, Sebadoh - Bakesale, Citizens Arrest - A Light in the Darkness

Records that I am sure are really great, and could at least be honorable mentions, but I really haven't spent all that time with them because I am lazy. Or they could just suck, but need to at least be notated:
Shoppers - Silver Year, any Thou record that came out this year, Blut Aus Nord - 777 Sect(s), J. Mascis - Several Shades of Why

Best reunion of the of one of the greatest bands in the world, who will continue to amaze the masses:
Guided by Voices, duh. Oh, and Archers of Loaf.

Best album of 2012, because I am so awesome that I can see into the future:
The Boston Strangler - Primitve. Duh.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Boston Strangler - Primitive (2012?)

I am hopefully going to do one more normal post before I hit up a year's end list, so be prepared. In the meantime, lets do some time traveling to the future. Primitive, I think, comes out 2012, which is a shame because it would be one hell of a way to top off 2011. I am somewhat at a loss of what to say about this album. Really, I just want to let you know that you would be utterly stupid not listen to this record, and then an utter fool to not understand it's greatness.

Primitive comes at a crucial moment for the genre of hardcore in the present. Hardcore can be pretty lackluster, and sometimes the stretches of mediocrity can last too long. I am not saying that contemporary hardcore has no redeeming qualities, there are so many great bands doing great things right now. However, the quality over quantity speaks differently, out of how many bands that play something remotely close to hardcore are good, especially the more "top 40" bands that get notoriety. And so we have The Boston Strangler to remind us that hardcore can be thrilling, that it can separate the substance from the loads of crap.

This album is perfect, front to back. That's my album description. Suck it.

  1. Primitive
  2. Overdose
  3. First Offense
  4. Locked Inside
  5. Boston Strangler
  6. Gonna Make You Pay
  7. Disconnect Me
  8. Overcrowded
  9. Violence Addicts
  10. Waste of Time
  11. Burglar Breakout

Make like a tree, and get outta here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Never Healed - S/T (2008)

Realistically, I should be building my personal website, but I am the king of procrastination. And, I realized that are more important matters to attend to. That being, uploading one the best hardcore lp's of the past decade. I'll admit that I felt somewhat abused, rather taken advantage of, when I realized I had not shoved the excellence of Never Healed's S/T record down your throats. Shame on me.

Now, we have already covered the fact that I am a fanboy of a certain family tree of hardcore punk bands stemming from the Northern Cali region. This is not new news. Never Healed, though, were special, a veritable, and underrated, supergroup. A blistering 5 piece whose members had done time in Look Back and Laugh, Yaphet Kotto, Lights Out among many others. Take the influence of those former bands, that being hard as nails hardcore punk, turn it up to 11. Yeah, that awesome.

In all serious, the music is fantastic. Sure, they maybe reinventing the wheel, but the style in which they accomplish that is quite unique. It was heavy, and not in the loud or 90's metalcore way, but in the "whoa, that riff just total dropped an anvil on that old lady" way. Their blend of hardcore was evil sounding, the song "We Are Ruins" is a 42 second lesson in making a hardcore song as hard as a box of nails. So, take this already evil instrumental sound, and then place Casey's vocals over it and you are really taken to a dark place. To say Casey had a unique vocal style, especially in Never Healed, would not be an understatement. Where as most bands of this age were shouting over their band, Casey's vocals took a page from the black metal book. Visceral, shrill screaming about the world ending and the human race being a disease. Pure contempt without sounding trite or redundant, not something many bands can achieve these days. Plus, though I never had the chance to see them, it looks like they threw one hell of a live show (I've attached a video from their first show below, that's right, first show). Enjoy if this is your thing.

  1. Forever Never Ends
  2. Ruins
  3. Lonely Crawls
  4. Wind and Smoke
  5. Waits to Destroy
  6. Where the Crosses Grow
  7. We Are Ruins
  8. Far We Fall

We are death, we are disease.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A.A. Bondy - Believers (2011)

Now didn't I tell you some sad sack music would be following up my first post back? It wouldn't be a return to form if I didn't post something more along the lines of slow indie rock with folk leanings. I don't intend to mislead, Believers is not a dismal record made by someone with a beard. Nor is it dismal, or outright depressing. But it is a contemplative record, one to sit with as it's sounds wash over you.

Believers is Bondy's third record, one that displays full artistic maturity. American Hearts was a lesson in Americana, soothing folk music derivative of Dylan, Guthrie and others like them. His second record When the Devil's Loose, showed experimentation, still with folk leanings but with songs like "A Slow Parade" and "False River" becoming songs that showcase the electric guitar as they meander their way into your ears. Believers takes that sound he dabbled in and goes head on. The best way to describe this album is to listen with headphones of a sort and literally let the songs and their tones wash over you like waves.

There are moments where the structured song bears a resemblance of the Americana roots where he came from, like "Drmz" and "Surfer King". But for the most part, Bondy is letting the noise carry him through his songs. The ambiance of "Skull and Bones" will leave you with a very haunting feeling. "Highways/Fevers", the middle point of the record, slowly builds tension for the release of "Drmz", the next track. The record may take more of an invested listening to fully understand it, but once that is achieved, it becomes a very rewarding listen. Like all of A.A Bondy's work, one can't say Believers is his best, all his records hold their own merits of greatness. However, the mature sound he as grown into is extremely exciting and only points to more great music in the future.

  1. The Heart is Willing
  2. Down in the Fire (Lost Sea)
  3. Skull & Bones
  4. 123 Dupuy Street
  5. Surfer King
  6. Highway/Fevers
  7. Drmz
  8. The Twist
  9. Rte. 28/Believers
  10. Scenes from a Circus

Out of motion, into the sea.

Gauze - Equalizing Distort (1986)

Where has the time gone? It's been half a year since the last update, and boy does time fly. It is time to resuscitate the ole' blog. Time to wear off the shackles of the soothing sounds of classic rock that haunts my mind at work. Time to scoff once more at people's high opinions about their music. Time to, once more, lock my opinions about music back up in my ivory tower. So, are you prepared for more posts about me being a fanboy of certain musicians? Or the wonderful sounds of cult hardcore punk? Or just bad music? Then let's take this journey together.

I need to get my bearings straight in my first post, and the best way to do that is post some classic hardcore punk. Friends who slowly shake their heads at the noise that will be emitting from their speakers need not fear, some slow sad sack music is coming right up to always balance my eclectic blog. First things first, Japanese hardcore, and the almighty Gauze to be specific.

Now I have noticed that an individual into hardcore ages, evolves, in a very distinct way. Granted, this formula doesn't work with everyone, otherwise mosh hardcore would be the way of the buffalo, as they say. But I have noticed it when it comes to people that are into classic hardcore and punk. As one ages, the classics just don't become enough anymore, sure the contemporary sounds can help, but you will always want more. You find yourself down a path to the cult, the sounds of the elite, the taste grows weirder and darker. In this spectrum comes Japanese hardcore, the definitive answer when it comes to cult hardcore punk.

It's relative to many people of many genres. Fans of hardcore turn to cult hardcore, punk and noise, fans of metalcore turn to the Neurosis brand of music (more commonly referred to as "beard metal"). And last, fans of pop punk, well..... they unfortunately still love pop punk, it's just played by older people.

Gauze is one of my favorites of the Japanese brand of hardcore. Fast, abrasive and distinctly classic sounding. Fugu, the vocalist, sounds like he is snarling, foaming at the mouth when singing. The music is a whirlwind of all the influence of USHC at the time and Discharge, only taken to a slightly weirder place. The repetition of the music is key, it beats it's way into your head and the choruses of a song like "Pressing On" don't leave. Distort my friends, distort.

  1. Pressing On
  2. Crash the Pose
  3. Thrash Thrash Thrash
  4. 勝手にさらせ
  5. Fact and Criminal
  6. パッパッパ
  7. Absinth Trip
  8. Distort Japan
  9. 言いなり