So I know this is a bike blog and that is mostly what you folks out there in the vast world of The Internets want to read about when you drunkenly stumble over to our website; talk of the latest two wheeled monstrosity we spawned from the abyssal depths of our minds or some sordid tale of adventure from some far flung locale. I as a not oft contributor to our wild rants would like to take some time out from the regular scheduled programming to urge you to treat your ears to some sonic wonders. I started writing this blog in January as a summary of my favorite records released in 2013 in the standard "top ten" format, but never finished it due to work related activities and a multitude of other predictable excuses. I came back to it a few days ago as it lay unfinished on my home desktop and as I poured over the list I thought, "damn there were some fine works of art released last year". I then thought that it would be a shame not to share this with you folks out there. So let us forget that this is a long overdue top ten and just call it what it is: Some totally crucial slabs as recommended by TFW.
Disclaimer: Viewpoints put forth or otherwise insinuated in this blog post in no way reflect the larger ethos of Surly Bikes or their affiliates.
the (last) year:
1.Darkthrone: Underground Resistance -
From the eminently unholy chambers of the almighty Darkthone comes a album that really surprised me this past year. Though their material these days has strayed far from their classic kvlt sound that helped form the modern aural vernacular of what we know as "true Norwegian black metal", they have never strayed into anything that is tragically hip or decidedly un-metal. Even their "Hiking Metal Punks" album, albeit not my favorite, was still them doing whatever the fuck they wanted to and still had an edge to it. Their latest effort as the title informs you is a "Underground Resistance" promoting the real old school sound. If you don't know what I mean by an "old school" metal sound then perhaps use this album as a launching point to delve back in time in search of "The Riff". Yes, there was a time log ago when all that mattered was a totally sick riff and a punishing rhythm section, and Whoa buddy, this album's Riffs are righteous to the BONE! Take a listen and start a circle pit in your living room.
2.My Bloody Valentine: MBV -
First album in 22 years and it sounds like this could have been released directly following "Loveless" in 92'. They are an immensely influential band for many musicians who came of age in the mid 80s and early 90s and everyone loves to name drop them as a seminal infulece in their work. Their unique blend of shoegaze, drone & noise rock has inspired hundreds (if not thousands) of bands try to emulate this intoxicating haze of feedback wash and melodious swirl. Whatever aspect of their music strikes a chord with you, just know that it's never loud enough; turn it up until your ears bleed a little.
3.Savages: Silence Yourself -
This one came out of nowhere this year for me. Never heard of em until I was beering up at my local watering hole, the same one I worked at for 8 or so years before I started slinging bikes for Surly. This bartender chap, who I used to play music with, insits I write this band down on a napkin before I leave. Somehow I mange to hang onto said napkin and weeks later secure a copy of the record. Given my trust in this fellow's refined ear and similar love of obscure new wave, jangly phsyc rock, trashy synth noise, gloomy bummer-pop and the like, I needed not preview it before purchasing. This album is a solid, cover to cover listen. It's got the confident swagger of 16 horse power and the moody vibe of The Cure or Siouxsie And The Banshees. That's some good shit Maynard.
4.True Widow: Circumambulation -
From their onset this Austin TX band has blown me away. Their 2008 self titled release is about as close to a perfect record as I've heard in recent history, as in no song is really better than the last or ever looses my attention; It's just "hit after hit" to my ears. Their latest (third studio full length) release doesn't disapoint either. Equal parts doomy lurch, stoner rock riffage and shoegazy swirl, this band creates such a great atmosphere that is so dreamily lethargic and crushingly heavy, my head doesn't know whether to find a pillow or totally bang out.
5.Cuachemar: Tenebrario -
This sleeper of a French Canadian doom outfit finally released a full length after a killer EP back
in 2010 announced their presence. Lucky for us it was all new material, no repeat or redux from the EP and all really more complex and lovely. Describing their sound in a compelling way is kinda tricky as it can come off as a little too theatrical or pagan hippy-dippy for some metal heads and a it being in french perhaps a little to inaccessable for other non French speakers. I think that they hit a great balance of rock out riffage and dance under the fullmoon mysticism...but then if you know what I seek out in music this is no suprise. Another aspect of their sound I find noteworthy and deserving of praise is the vocals done by Annick Giroux; they are totally "unigue and authentic" as described on the Nuclear War Now! productions description. I couldn't have said it better so I didn't try. I reccomend building a fire somewhere in a field or in the woods and blasting this into the night air, who knows what wonderfull things may come from invoking the "Rites Lunaires"...
6.Bardo Pond - Peace On Venus
7.In Solitude: Sister
8.Aldebaran: ...From Forgotten Tombs II (comp)
9.William Onyeabor: World Psychedelic Classics 5: Who Is William Onyeabor?
10.The Dead C: Armed Courage
Other mind blowers of note released last year along with some video links to give you a taste:
Locrian - Return To Anihilation - http://youtu.be/YILi-rIBk7c
Carcass - Surgical Steel - http://youtu.be/5KKYJD09qCk
Church of Misery - Thy Kingdom Scum - http://youtu.be/HYHb42yTIqo
Inquisition - Obscure Verses for the Multiverse - http://youtu.be/835LdoBK9ao
Peste Noire - Peste Noire - http://youtu.be/spM79wm0i3o
Goat - Live Ballroom Ritual - http://youtu.be/9ys9Qps5a40
Chelsea Wolfe - Pain is Beauty - http://youtu.be/49MYJkEazIg
Secret Chiefs 3 - Book of Souls: Folio A - http://youtu.be/372xNzpi4Uw
Medicine - To the Happy Few - http://youtu.be/PbvFSzdBra8
The Men - New Moon - http://youtu.be/NX4lEIDg2ZU
Bailterspace - Trinine - http://youtu.be/rwQEe4BHj8E
Autechre - Exai - http://youtu.be/FiRLb8AYgIc
So there you have it! Get out there and pedal on down to your local record store and do some digging. I believe there is a totally passabable analogy between shopping for new bike and discovering your next favorite album, where you as a consumer have a choice between what you are spoonfed and what you have the power to discover if you just spend some time digging a little deeper into what is out there and what your mind can conjure.
"Don't ride boring bikes and don't listen to boring music; life is too short!"
Trevor From Wherever