It’s been a banner year for Hardly Art. Seemingly back-to-back-to-back-to-back fantastic albums filled out a year capped of by the Gem Club album Breakers, a truly somber bit of orchestration. To celebrate the festive days cluttering up the calender before the inevitable turn towards 2012, the good folk at Hardly Art sent over a list of some of their favorite albums this year.
For your enjoyment:
01. The Sandwitches – Mrs. Jones’ Cookies
02. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for My Halo
03. Shannon & the Clams – Sleep Talk
04. Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972
05. Magic Trick – The Glad Birth of Love
06. Grave Babies – Deathface
07. Fucked Up – David Comes to Life
08. Grouper – A I A : Alien Observer
09. A Winged Victory for the Sullen – s/t
10. Woods – Sun & Shade
11. Thee Oh Sees – Carrion Crawler / The Dream
Best live shows
Ty Segall, Davila 666, Nu Sensae, White Lung, Thee Oh Sees, Pictureplane
Demdike Stare, The Babies, Hunx & Tuffy, up all night in Austin, up all night in NYC, Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx, Factory Floor, Clap reissue, Bill Cosby & His White Pudding Pops, James Blake, Total Control, Iceage, Grass Widow, Case Studies… everything on Hardly Art and Sub Pop that I am refraining from putting in the proper 10.
Read the rest of the Hardly Art family’s favorite things (more…)
I drank more beers than I can count on both hands last night. And then capped it off with an assortment of drugs and a half-pint of bourbon. Somehow San Francisco’s PreTeen’s delightfully disparate pop sound helps take the edge off the light creeping in through my makeshift curtains. Somehow PreTeen’s melodic bass back-end applies a universal salve to the day old liquor kicking my brain around and it’s malevolent cohorts doing similar work on my digestive tract. Somehow PreTeen pushes through all of this with a flaming hot blade of catchiness and etches a diagram of good, solid, original pop music on the throbbing mass of my enflamed brain.
I know very little about this band, but they’re giving away their rock solid 5-song EP right here.
Seattle Rock Orchestra’s evening with Kaylee Cole and Shenandoah Davis at the Triple Door on April 2nd was a year in the making and with Scott Teske’s carefully crafted orchestration and the gifted bows and horns of SRO, Davis and Cole’s songs were fully realized in a way few artists will ever get to experience. And Davis rose to the challenge, sounding more operatic vocally and more accomplished on piano than ever, which if you’ve seen Shenandoah perform before, is saying something indeed.
To see two local song-writers treated with the same pain-staking reverence and thunderous applause as names like Bowie, Wilson, Yorke and Mercury is one of my favorite local music memories. Not of 2011, but period. It’s this kind of collaboration, that extends beyond SRO to Matt and Mike Gervais of Curtains for You who joined Davis on stage for a number of songs and to Cole, who joined her for a duet performing a song by Nick Jaina, a Portland singer-songwriter, that makes what’s happening in Seattle right now so special.
There’s certainly a hint of Seattle’s early 90s past dug deep within the core of Naomi Punk’s song “I’m Already Dead.” A way that the discordant riffs play with the edge of extreme only to pull back in to simple rock ‘n’ roll twang. It has have mostly to do with the drop, the hallowed burst of noise that shakes the listener in to fervent elbow shaking, the sweat flying from the brow. The way the drums explode outwards, the vocals tip in to a pained holler. The heavy chug of the guitars. And then, the sweet, sweet release of gentle guitar and a distant voice.
It used to be that you had to wait until Tuesday’s for new records to drop at your local record store, but with the advent of Bandcamp, SoundCloud and of course the prevalence of pre-release date leaks, that’s no longer the case. With that in mind and with no promises of this being a weekly feature, I bring you “New Local Listens on Bandcamp,” where we share a new local release or two available for your streaming and (often) purchasing pleasure. This is your chance to hear music you might not hear otherwise and to form your own opinion, full record reviews on the albums featured will be forthcoming. The goal for this column is all about access and exposure.
On the completely opposite musical spectrum of things comes the follow-up full-length from psychedelic orchestral misfits Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground. The bigger than ever band, now with 12 members featured on its delightfully retro album cover, is still exploring the theatrical side of the ’60s, like Lawrence Welk on peyote. Its cheeky, experimental and daring; and even if its not your cup of (mushroom) tea the musicality and creativity on display on Introducing Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground is laudable. You can hear Kay Kay this weekend on KEXP’s Audioasis, Saturday at 6pm, we imagine they won’t be playing “You Motherfuckers” unfortunately.
Witch Garden’s “Fiesta, Texas” is a brilliant little bit of indie-rock collage. It opens with a lilting lo-fi melody you might’ve found in the now hallowed halls of Mountain Man, but before you can chew a piece straw and daydream about the great wide open, it’s clattered and clanged in to whole different robot. All of sudden gone are the mellifluous harmonies, replaced by the rattling pop power of the amazing Reading Rainbow.
And I’m not trying to say the band are merely modge-podge artists. They’ve just managed to tap in to the life blood of some of the best music being made right now and if that’s there starting point, good things are to be looked out for.
You can grab this track and another track over at their Bandcamp page.
Did I mention these kids are from Seattle? Two Seattle bands in one week on The Daily Choice …
There’s such a ramshackle sense of enjoyment to Thick Shakes “Go Back To New York.” As if the sundry members of this band were a bunch of shabbily dressed neurons, ricocheting about a pee-stained practice space, their instruments crumbling as they implode. Thick Shakes sound like an exploitation film looks, it’s good and fun, but the film has a too many cigarette burns and occasionally a frame gets dropped. No one cares though because a ’68 Thunderbird is jumping a parade length of flaming school buses while topless Southern women scream. Raucous maybe, rollicking even.
To the side of my name over on the sidebar, trapped between parentheses, are the words “San Francisco”, intoning the fact that indeed I do, and have, lived in San Francisco for the last year and a half. Looking back on The Daily Choice, my selections say otherwise. For no other reason then an inability to focus, I’ve sort of strayed from showcasing the burning coal that is the San Francisco scene at this very moment. Well, in the month of December, I aim to correct that. Every day for the next month of yuletide charm I’m showcasing a band from San Francisco and the surrounding colonies in an effort to give myself a pleasant birds-eye view of what I’ve been missing in my own backyard.
Painted Palms feel like some sort of happily drugged out mix (think pot and mushrooms, not ketamine and meth) of Passion Pit and Animal Collective. It’s got that hip-shaking beat of a good old dance-pop song, but this is a dance party that happens beneath a rainbow umbrella on a shipwreck island. I see synthesizers made of coconuts, an audience of gyrating monkeys, a waterfall of “1′s” and “0′s” spilling behind them. This is the tropics finely sieved through the thin metallic shin of buoyant electronica. I’m confused, do I put on my Hawaiian shirt or my glittery sun glasses and forgo shirt all together? And does it really matter?
You can snatch up this ecstasy-laced coconut at the band’s Bandcamp page.
I’m afflicted with this issue of only being able to describe music currently as “hazy” or “haunting” or “churning.” Somehow, I consider it writing ability, I’m able to lump any and every song in to one of these categories regardless of the speed, length, genre, or instrumentation used. Thus, when I stumble across a song that actually adequately fits in to one of these categories I find myself, shockingly, at loss for words. Grasping about in the dark for some other descriptor that’ll fit the correct bill.
Bigcolour, the one man project of Chicago’s very own Brian Brissart has thrown me in to just such a vocabulary-less tizzy. This is certainly hazy, haunting music with an equally hazy, haunting video to match it, but putting those words down on paper just lumps it in with the rest of the musical world. Bigcolour stands above the crowd, I’ll tell you that, both in song and video, somehow crafting music that weds lo-fi vocals with a mature, fully realized, ahem, haze of instrumentation. It’s like hearing the low bay of wolf through a dense forest. Or the distant caw of a seagull across the crashing waves. Or just really good music paired with a brilliantly colored video.