Let’s get the standard 2012 Holiday Cheer Finale out of the way: Happy New Year! To you, to yours, to any and all who might’ve stumbled across this website and this post as the New Year, lucky ’13, crests on the horizon.
What better way to start a new year but with a hint of mystery eh? Fuzz, the blistering bit of rock ‘n’ roll awaiting you below, just released a 7″ on Chicago’s Trouble In Mind Records. Who though, may I ask, is Fuzz? There are rumors that this is yet another Ty Segall side project, this time paired with Charlie Mootheart. And in the bass-heavy rumble of discordant guitars and the near-petulant holler of youth-gone-wrong you might be able to pin this track to the shaggy-mopped anti-hero of 2012 guitar. No one’s owning up yet though, and in the end, when the 2 minutes and 30-something seconds grinds to a halt, the reverb still echoing in your ears, it turns out it doesn’t really matter. As 2013 lumbers in to existence, perhaps we can find some lesson to be learned in this.
Or perhaps we can just brace ourselves for another year of music, recorded or otherwise, and be thankful that those goddamn Mayans couldn’t stick the landing.
It feels like all that time spent hangin’ around with White Fences has rubbed off on ultra-prolific San Francisco wunderkind Ty Segall. With “The Hill”, the first single off of his 3rd album of 2012, Mr. Segall opens a hole to the past, wrenching the still breathing form of John Lennon in to the thrashy garage of San Francisco, 2012. This is “Tomorrow Never Knows” turned up to 14, Segall’s voice a broken reflection of Lennon’s courtly wail, in fact the whole song a funhouse mirror of The Fab Four. If this is even slightly indicative of Twins I’m wholeheartedly signed on.
Following the release of their stellar Castle Face debut Yes On Blood, The Mallard’s little star has been rising, well, quickly to say the least. A tour with Thee Oh Sees, a recent show with The Fresh & Onlys, and an upcoming slate of live gigs a mile long – it’s nice to see this fantastic band finally get the credit they deserve. I’ve been waiting for months and months for something they’ve done, anything really, to get the video treatment, and now Grass Widow’s Hannah Lew (director of videos for Hunx and His Punx amongst many) has done the honor. Broken glass everywhere, that’s all I can say.
Check out The Mallard tomorrow night at The Independent with Ty Segall and White Fences.
If I can speak in broad blanket statements for a moment, I believe that San Francisco is putting out the best music of any scene in the country right now. I know, I know, you’re reading a Seattle-based blog, and I certainly know, my bias is completely out of control as I wake and live in this fine city each and every day and am engaged in the scene in a way that I can’t be in any other city. That said, I’m a national music reviewer. I scour the internet day after day trying to find music to populate my brief little column with and only a small fraction of it derives from The Bay Area. It says a lot to me that this small fraction makes up such a enormous part of my musical listening space and for that reason alone I thought this The Bay Area deserved it’s only little Top 10 write-up.
As always, I’m a failure at even numbered lists and as always I’m not one to rank. These are ten bands I thought unmissable, and I’ll admit it’s not a hugely different list than what I’ve composed before, but the bands that were good in SF last year, we’re just as good if not better this year.
Hope the New Year is already giving you cinnamon-scented massages. Thanks for reading.
Thee Oh Sees
I’m a little bit obsessed with John Dwyer and his merry band of musical pranksters. Their live show, their prolific release schedule, their unstoppably energetic sound – I am a buck-tooth, scab-lipped groupie of Thee Oh Sees. 2011 may have been their best year yet with two original releases and a singles comp all beamed to the world amidst an exponential growth in their national popularity. John Dwyer’s record label Castle Face continued to pummel the Bay with some truly great releases (one or two that appear on this list) and I found myself chomping at the bit for 2012 just for the fruit of that labor to make it’s way in to my records stack. Lets be honest, Thee Oh Sees are probably going to be perennial favorites on this list, so get used to it.
The Mallard was almost silent in release this year, but her live show became something to behold with the addition of a drummer and a bassist. From gimmick-laden (but still amazing) solo performer to, behold to believe, rock and roll frontman, Greer McGettrick gets the nod for growing from one of my favorites, to one of everyone’s favorites.
I’m iffy on the current trend in rock ‘n’ roll to imitate the tight pants and feathered hair of glam rock precursors, but Burnt Ones still managed to melt me a new one this year. I don’t know if I had a better time at a show than the late night dance fest that was Burnt Ones at The Knockout this year, and their record, Black Teeth & Golden Tongues, is on constant rotation. It’ll make you want to pull on the tight tights, let your hair grow out, and booty shuffle your way to the liquor store.
Not a better song was released this year than “Lazybones” off of Wooden Shjips West. Fast paced, psychedelic as fuck, everything you want from a Wooden Shjips’ release plowed in to a four minute shred-fest.
Late entry on to the list, but Oakland’s Manatee is well deserved. I’ve felt the hints of early 90s punk touching on the edges of music for a while now, and though it’s scary to think we might be rolling in to a world where ska and Buck ‘o’ Nine are making a comeback, bands like Manatee take the raw energy and combine it with the artistic sensibility I’m loving right now. If this is the future, sign me up for a one-way ticket on a spaceship made of chrome.
Say what you will about the new records from Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin but their collaboration on the Castle Face Flexi-Disc were two of the best songs of the year. Both Bowie covers, both grimy and hard and all sorts of sonic ass-kicking, both not-so-subtle reminders of what these two gentlemen can do when paired together.
I almost didn’t put Sic Alps on here after their cross-country meltdown and Mike Donovan’s sort of egoed rise from band leader to band unto-himself. But the hits just keep coming. Sic Alps have managed to take experimental noise and meld it with pop harmonies and nods the stranger corners of the 1970s and it is, well, fantastic. I miss the Sic Alps of yore, but am curious to see if the future holds anything.
The time has come for me to regurgitate an entire years worth of music on to the digital table so you can pick through the mess and see what I liked and possibly find something you missed or something you agree with or something you’ve never heard of and suddenly like. As usual there are probably a hundred songs that I listened to and exclaimed “this is the best song ever” and then totally forgot to post anything about and also, as always, a lot of the songs tend be picked from the latter part of the year because my drug-addled brain is unable to source anything from the front half. It’s a good mix this year and I’m proud that for almost 5 years now I’ve had the opportunity to share my thoughts on music on this amazing website with you, our amazing readers.
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 keep waiting to get sick of Ty Segall. I keep waiting for the rumors about his new “rock-star ways” and the fact that he just played a free show for Dramboujie and that he puts out album after album after album to start to wear at me. But it doesn’t. Ty Segall continues to put out some of the best San Francisco has to offer, and more and more I’m sure that in the near future this talented kid will burning bright for the whole world to see. ”Cherry Red”, the b-side to his upcoming Drag City 7″ is a thudding bit of grime coated rock and roll. It’s just one big riff with Ty Segall screaming over it, and the guitars and the drums just keep blaring on. It’s catchy and simple and exactly what I needed this morning.
“Cherry Red” is the b-side to the Drag CitySpiders 7″ out now.
Burnt Ones are on non-stop repeat in all facets of my life right now. This is an old video pre-SXSW, but “Bury Me In Smoke” is circling the top of my pile for favorite song of the year right now and if I can give it more love I will. So here it is, again. Give it love. Help me give it love.
Wooden Shjip’s “Lazy Bones” is an amazing song of an even more amazing album. I didn’t think they could top how face-melting the song is with any sort of visual component. But they did. How? By handing the reigns over to the brilliantly insane minds behind Black Dice. The video is a speeding wreck of visual images and it matches the song near perfectly. So perfectly, that I started to feel a bit nauseated and had to stop it. Twice.
Ty Segall’s sort of new album didn’t get a lot of screen time here on SOTS, but it played many a background of a drunken night. The new video for “Goodbye Bread” is gorgeous and strange and a darling compliment to a real winner of a song. There’s also a naked woman in slow-mo, which never hurts anything for me ever.
Bare Wires are down in Memphis throwing together a new album for Southpaw and it seems like they took a break to stitch together this gritty little video that looks better suited for a late night 1987 MTV video collage.
You might remember Mikal Cronin from his metal-tinged duo album with the burning star that is Ty Segall. Separated from the pack though, Cronin comes out swinging in an entirely different, though exciting way. ”Apathy”, the first single from his upcoming Trouble In Mind (God bless those merry pranksters) release jumps in to the pond wearing a swimsuit made of jangle. As soon as the feet are wet though, the jangle starts to fade, and a fuzzed out wave warm, nearly 90s-nostalgic, distortion starts to wash everything out. Cronin’s voice rides the scummy pond like a bright, blast of sunlight never allowing the crunchier bits to take full control. It’s a beautiful jumble of a song and if the blogosphere is correct this is looking out to be one of the best albums of the burgeoning second half of the year.
Cronin’s self-titled LP drops on Chicago’s Trouble In Mind on September 20th.