Thursday, January 5, 2012

2011 Best Of

Let me start this by saying that, although I run a music blog, I'm pretty thoroughly isolated from most happenings in the music world: I either like something or I don't. I can't afford to buy much new music, and I don't go to a whole lotta shows.

The point is that this list is extremely limited, and probably won't match most of your (the reader's) favorites for the year. Fuggin' deal with it, bro.

I. LPs

Royal Headache-s/t:
2011 was Royal Headache's year. Most of us Yanks missed 'em completely on their US tour, but followed up their stellar debut 7" with this magisterial piece of garage pop. If you've ever wandered the streets of your hometown, broken up over some girl or guy, alone and forsaken, this is your fuckin' album. But the sad parts ("Honey Joy," "Down the Lane") are balanced by jaunty tunes ("Psychotic Episode"), and the result is the most emotionally visceral punk LP I've heard in years. Hell, I even like the instrumentals.

Sold out, but keep checking the RIP Society Tumblr page-there's supposed to be a repress coming this month.

Total Control-Hedge Beat:
I haven't heard their EPs, but Total Control won me over completely with their debut LP. The first song, "Love Performance," is brilliant, and would redeem the rest of the album if it sucked-but it doesn't. This is weird, tightly constructed and intelligent post-punk played by people who know the genre inside and out. Find out for yourself.

Sold out, but apparently gonna be re-stocked, here.

Pink Reason-Shit in the Garden
Despite its rather wretched title, this one surprised me twice: first with how much of a departure it was from PR's previous work, and second by how much it grew on me after repeated listens. From the twisted electro beat of "Holding On" to the extended banjo solo of "You Can't Win," it sounds like Kevin DeBroux's tentatively moving beyond the doom 'n' gloom of his past-what direction he's headed in is anyone's guess, but this LP bears careful, repeated listening. Do it.

Buy it here!

 Piresian Beach-Fuck Your Mind

"Fuck Your Mind" was a marked departure from PB's 2010 EP: less pummeling drumwork and savagely direct guitar lines, more weird ass guitar haze that, you eventually realize, is an infectious hook. Whereas most bands doing the shoegaze revival bit today go for the colossal riffage of My Bloody Valentine, Piresian Beach is mining the pysch-garage vein sketched out by a far older crew of bands, as featured on the Nuggets comp. The band sounds tighter, the hazy, shimmering quality is still there, and this LP is great for smoking weed to: what more do ya want?

Piresian Beach lives here.

Bass Drum of Death-GB City

I got into this late-like, December late-but holy fuck! This thing smokes. Swaggering, absurdly overconfident garage blues from Oxford, Mississippi (home of one William K.). Jingle-jangle whizzbangs blowin' outcha amps, swiggin' Schlitz while trying to finagle seven minutes in heaven. Y'dig?

More info here.

Other hot LPs: Natural Child, 1971; The Men-Leave Home; Maria Minerva-Sacred and Profane Love

The Band in Heaven-7 Minutes in Heaven
"Sleazy Dreams" might be my favorite rock song of the year. An absolutely slamming, hypnotic beat and a relentless guitar line, cold as ice vocals. "If you only knew" sticks it to the complacent listener by diving into Brian Jonestown-esque raga territory. Try and keep up with The Band.

Bash yer head in.

Broken Water-Peripheral Star EP

Broken Water sounds more confident with every outing. On this, their third proper recording, the Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth references are more fluid, the MBVisms more natural, than ever before. Great for a rain-drenched, stoned out day spent staring off into, uh, space.
Buy it.
BW's bandcamp.

Elvis Depressedly-Save the Planet, Kill Yourself

This is not an uplifting, goodtimes album. Butcha already knew that, right? Mr. Depressedly wears his emotions on his chin, and happened to bang out one of the best EPs I heard this year. Apparently the cool kids are into "witch house" instead of chill wave these days, and ED was billed to me as witch house. Whatever else this is, it's deeply felt, at times painful music that swirls in and out of your ears, challenging you to engage with it as something more than whateverthefuck house.
Check it out.

 Crazy Spirit-I'm Dead

Crazy Spirit's my favorite among the new crop of NYC-area noise terrorists (Perdition, Nomos, Omegas, et. al.). Their demo and first EP smoked, but "I'm Dead" finds them branching out into...uh...blues, with "This World is Not my Home." These three tracks showcase all the elements that initially got us all into the band, while hinting at much larger ambitions.

Buy here.

 Dirty Beaches-Practical ESP Ost
I feel like a jerkoff for listing this one, since it was limited to 100 cassette copies, but that's not my fault.

This is four songs of delicate, haunting ambient soundscapes that float in and out of your ears on wings of ether. One of my friends used to cry whenever he heard Sigur Ros' first album. That's not quite the case with this EP, but I come pretty damn close. Dirty Beaches is the band to watch in 2012.
Shit's sold out, duh. I'll post the file at some point soon.

Other hot EPs: The Ropes-s/t EP, Keep Shelly in Athens-Hauntin' Me, Weed Hounds-Beach Bummed, Niva-Feverish Dreams, No Hope Kids-s/t, Okinawa Lifestyle-Under Water

Other shit I don't feel like making a complete list for:

Top Three demos (that I heard): The Ropes-Demo II, Cemetery, Kontaminat, Wild Child

Best 'Zines: Overdosing in Republican World, Feel the Darkness, No Thanks (Fuck Everything)

1 comment:

  1. excellent list! i completely agree with the ones i've heard and plan to look into the ones i haven't.