2012’s Crucial Cuts
So 2012 was quite a year eh? Too bad I can’t remember much of it. I really was hoping for a fancy apocalyptic shit-show to go down so I can test my bug out bag, finally make that decision about which bike I take with me as I flee ensuing mayhem and live out all my Mad Max fantasies on The Road…but I guess I’ll have to settle for more droning hum-drummery of law and order. What I did really enjoy last year more than the release of the Kate Middleton photos, the “Fiscal Cliff”, Hurricane Sande or the presidential debates? Some REALLY good records got released. Now most folks around here know me as a metal head and while I won’t deny that this is true, I also collect a wide variety of strange and delightful records from a vast array of musical genres. So I though as I sat here at the home office that I would do a roundup of what I found to be my 9 favorite releases of 2012 (yeah 9. Everybody does 10. I’m doing 9, deal with it). By the way, do you know what the best thing about working from home is? It’s not the proximity to the fridge or the liquor shelf; it’s the clothing optional dress code. Think about it.
And here we are in no particular order, Trevor’s 9 crucial cuts of 2012:
feedtime – “ The Aberrant Years”
Not a 2012 recording but rather a massively awesome recap on the legendary Aussi rock band’ s first four records all done between 1985–1989. It’s a great release because once you hear these dirty and minimal chugging tracks you will need to own all of it and this 4LP set just about covers it. Now I think I’m going to go blast this in the garage and start up my motorcycle for the hell of it.
Swans – “The Seer”
M. Jira’s masterfull and masochistic second release after this band rose like a phoenix from the ashes after years of disbandment. Definitely keeping some of the baroque compositions he was arranging with the Angels of Light outfit but sonically brutal and repetitive like the classic Swans you already love.
Bell Witch – “Longing”
DOOOOOOOOOM from the grim waterlogged wasteland that is Seattle. The best tracks are the same ones that were on the demo but the newer stuff is quite good too albeit more like a weird slow-core indy tone vs. Doom metal. I don’t even know how many times I have listened to this while answering emails about fat bike ETAs and Krampus pre-orders. The riffs in this cut remind me of the theme song from “Dune” by Toto.
Soft Moon – “Zeros”
Another absolutely perfect record from this Bay Area post-punk-industrial-dance mastermind Luis Vasquez. Sounds retro without trying too hard, also not riding the wave of shitty drum machine rock that seems to dominate the airwaves right now. Almost like New Order meets Wire with some Suicide mixed in. HOT GLOOMY DEATH DISCO!
GOAT – “World Music”
If this track and accompanying bizzaro video doesn’t have you hopping on your bike and full-on sprinting to your area independent record store to grab a copy of this mind blowing and heady release, you should probably check your pulse. I don’t like picking absolute favorites but, this one…whew! The other thing that blows me away is that this group is from Sewden…and this is their first release?!?! It just doesn’t make any sense. They must have sold their pasty white souls to some demon or voo-doo shaman priest of funky rhythms.
Led Er Est – “The Diver”
More cold-waveish post punkery from this Brooklyn trio. I suppose this could come across as another drop in the bucket of groups trying to resurrect the magic of the late 70s-early 80s European underground sound… but there is so much more going on than you can pick up on just one spin through the album; weird sounds, brooding synths and effects flush out the simple beats, guitar noise and haunted vocals creating an otherworldy experience. “If weather was a woman would he love her still?” I still have no idea what that means but I like it.
Moonbell – “Moonbell”
Blissed out and atmospheric shoe-gaze dream pop. Beautiful stuff. This is one of my favorite records to listen to at the end of a long day when I need to be teleported to some far off mountain vista, like the one on the cover, planted down on a patch of soft grass and be lulled off to sleep under a starlit sky…or just pass out on the floor.
Ash Borer – “Cold of Ages”
I have not been a huge fan of USBM from the beginning for what I felt to be a lack of originality but these days more and more acts have been popping up that catch my attention. Still no one can touch the masterworks laid down in Norway in the late 80 s and early 90s but as the black metal genre has exploded and spawned a bazzilion sub genres and blended styles the creativity and experimentation has yielded some fine specimens. Take for example this release by the Northern Californians Ash Borer. Nothing could make one more pleasant and agreeable in disposition as sunny northern California right? WRONG! Haunting and moody atmospherics give way to pummeling depressive metal shreddage! I don’t care if it’s 73 degrees and beautiful out, I’m frostbitten and grim on the inside and that’s what counts!
Yamantaka//Sonic Titan – “YT//ST”
Technically released 2011 but the small LP pressing didn’t really make it into circulation until last year. These two Canadian gals present their “Noh-Wave Opera” masterpiece consisting of pounding rhythms, soaring vocals and prog-psychedelia with a pop sensibility. This record is so good you can just put on repeat, sit back and enjoy…or dance around your living like a monkey in an oil fire.