Sic Alps – Napa Asylum
Brilliantly deconstructed trogglodyte rock. If garage rock had been built to express abstract mental illness as opposed to teen sexual angst this would sound something like a cornerstone record. An LP of 'Exile On Main Street' sized ambition composed of stoned attempts to rewrite early Kinks riffs. No one carves out space like these guys. The most interesting rock band going.
My Mind – Fed Up With Myself
Epic art-poppery from ST-band slugger Westberg and his crew. Finding the common hook denominator between Sparks and The Who, their calculations dictate an excess of ideas equating a 9 minute one-sided 12" epic. Defying what it means to be both Pop & Punk with a self awareness implied by both band and record title, slotting them into a clever hyphenated genre I would have to say Music-music. Great fun listening to song made by people who can actually sing nowadays.
The Pink Noise – Gilded Flowers
Great future-trash pop. An album composed of songs best described as dystopian wastoid popathetic cruisers. In the best way possible this comes on like the sound of someone possessed of a desire
to become an art-rock superstar (ala Blonde Berlin Bowie), but with ultra-limited resources putting a rude embargo on said dream. Earth's great gravity fueled ratio-equalizer makes (possibly) intended pastiche like this find greater value in exactly it's quality of having missed it's mark. All pretensions aside this is a great album, a Pink Noise favourite.
July – July
A stone classic from the heady days of '68. Not much to say about this as if you like this kind of thing, you've already heard it. Underrated in the grand Rolling Stone scheme of things, it's best moments are equal to Piper-era Floyd. Wonderful, magical stuff re-issued this past year with beautifully legit tip-on sleeve and poster.
Crystal Stilts – In Love With Oblivion
Pitch perfect recreation of what Simon Reynolds would probably refer to as record collector rock. When brick and mortar songwriting is as good as it is here, who could give two shits. The fact that the production is so bang on, with perfect period placement of jealousy inducing harpsichord moments only makes the pill go down that much smoother. This record has vibe, like ALBUM vibe. Like, BAND vibe. Like dusty Creem magazine, mystic nostalgia vibe VIBE. Got more pleasure out of this popper than almost anything else this past year.
Currensy & Alchemist – Covert Coup
I've already spilled ink on how Alchemist is clearly the most interesting producer post-Dilla working in the rap major leagues. Having said that, this album took me a minute to grasp. I prefer grime-caked dusty loops to luxury conjuring space-age smoothey shit, so this kind of funkiness takes me a couple listens to get into... But this thing is a world unto itself, bubbling and reverberating in off rhythms to it's own inner logic. It's not often that a rap album takes on a personality all itself, even Ghostface albums are often all over the place. Having a single producer and the same rapper on each track definitely helps with this concern. Goes to show just how far ahead of his time Doom was sampling 80's synths and soft rock guitar lines years ago.
Danava – Hemisphere Of Shadows
Not gonna bother comparing this to anything else. More insightful comparisons than 'this sounds like Thin Lizzy' could be made by people who actually listen to this kind of music on a regular basis. All I know is that this is sum hevvy shit. I do admit to missing the synth driven moments of their first album (keyboard bits are the best part of this album), but even so the riffage is undeniable. I hate to the be that classic rock dude, but I feel like we're living in the anti-punk era where chops are back to being invigorating. I'm predicting that the best music of the next decade will be made by people who know how to fucking play their shit. I'm going anti-punk, anti no-wave. I'm gonna learn how to play my guitar properly, and only listen to harpsichord concertos.
Clap – Have You Reached Yet
Great re-issue by a band of Cali no-lifers from the early 70's. I think the New York Dolls get A LOT of credit for basically just ripping off the Stones... Granted 'Trash' is pretty spectacular, but they seem to have an inordinate amount of cred, for yea... just sounding like another band. That quote about Malcolm McLaren managing the Dolls after hearing their record and deciding they were the worst musicians in the world is pretty hilarious in retrospect (McLaren would have his hands full on that criteria nowadays). Clap are the real deal in terms of sloppy borderline plagiarism, as good as the Dolls in parts. A pillar of the 'originality is great, but...' argument.
Dirty Beaches / Ela Orleans – Double Feature
Good stuff from these dreamy soundscapers. Alex's best blend of rockabilly rebel-rousing posture and his more left field ambient soundtracking impulses. Some of Ela's best exploratory dream conjuring sampledelica. These guys are a good combo, they have very similiar impulses from completely different sides of the hormone spectrum. They have a very specific vision for their work, and go about it with a determined process that I admire in each.
Timber Timbre – Creep On Creepin' On
The sax n' combo organ riff speaks for itself. Songs as talismanic creepers. I'm a sucker for that plinky piano type shit and delay'd out croonin.