Sunday, January 18, 2009

F1rst & 4oremost Best of '08!

I've finally compiled my Best of '08. Yeah yeah, I know, we're a couple weeks into '09. Oh well, better late than never and well, perfection takes time. So, without further ado, I present no particular order (drum roll please) my top picks of '08. 

Like you care.

1) Disfear-"Get It Off" from "Live The Storm"
This album is a relentless mix of brutal punk and good ol' rock-n-roll which I guess the kids call "D-Beat" these days. I assume, from the sound of it, these gys are the kings. Shit, what do I know? I call it "Fist-Pumpin' Kick-ass!" 

2) Ozenza-"Hot We" from "Hear Was Here"
What do you get if you mix Queens of the Stone Age, Failure and...oh...I don't know...Harkonen or Unsane or something? This Grand Rapids, MI rock unit, of course. Their long time comin' debut did not disappoint. A perfect marriage (*pun intended*) of riff rock melodies and noise rock meanderings.

3) KENmode-"The Pioneer" from "Mennonite"
AMREP worship done right! These Winnipeg, Manitoba noise rock bad boys make good. Written and recorded in two weeks so it's more stripped down compared to old but none the less effective or vicious. Have you ever heard Kittens?

4) Suicide Note-"No Waves" from "Empty Rooms"
These Chicago noise-core gone indie-core favs come back after a couple of years of silence with a much more focused, yet just as varied (yeah, I said that!) release than their last "Too Sick To Dance (Forever Fucked)". Welcome back (Thank you!)

5) Torche-"Healer" from "Meanderthal"
Numbero uno on most best of '08 lists. I can not disagree. This album jams! In every single sense. Perfectly mixing anthemetic vocal melodies with solid fuckin' riffs man...RIFFS! I might be the only one but I swear I hear hints of Page Hamilton in there...

6) Broadcast Sea-"Heavy Heavy" from "Wounded Soldier"
Debut album from this Texas-based unit. They would fit excellently on tour with fellow list dwellers Young Widows and Transistor Transistor so I think that says least in my world.

7) Fight Amp-"Bound and Hagged" from "Hungry For Nothing"
Crusty, sludgy, noisy, filthy and delicious! This three headed morsel (three vocalist, 2 male and 1 female) took a slight turn from there D-beat past to greener, more dynamic pastures. Think a less psychedelic Kylesa (Hungry For Nothing was recorded and produced by Kylesa's Philip Cope after all) with a similar pounding bombast and low end pummel. One of my most cranked albums of '08!

8) 5ive-"Kettle Cove" from "Hesperus"
It's ironic to me that the title of 5ive's third full length (and first album in quite awhile) has a name that sounds like an STD. Ironic because this is the most catchy I've heard this band sound. This instrumental psyche-metal duo seems to have streamlined things a bit (or at least cleaned up the production) without sacrificing any of the pedal hopping. This album "jaaamms" in that early-70's "Can't see yer hand in front of yer face from all the dope smoke" sort of way.

9) Bison (bc)-"These Are My Dress Clothes" from "Quiet Earth"
Stoner-ish, thrashy metal from Vancouver, British Columbia in the vein High On Fire and Mastodon with moments of old Anthrax thrown in for good measure. I suppose that's not too odd considering Bison was formed by an ex-member of the Canadian skate-thrash band S.T.R.E.E.T.S. Sure, this does sound like what you might expect from a band named after a giant hairy animal but fuck it! Crank it, fist pump and chug a beer!

10) Gods and Queens-"Untitled 3" from "Gods and Queens"
I've read that G&Q's guitar player/singer Jaime Getz (ex-Lickgoldensky) is hard to get a long with. Maybe in a band situation, that is true...or maybe he's just a man of vision. A man who knows how he wants things he's involved with to sound. Gods and Queens sounds like exactly that. This band follows more in line with his criminally short lived, post-LGS collaboration with Mike Hill (ex-Anodyne, current Tombs), Versoma. There is something very vulnerable about this. Hopefully not so vulnerable that it can't stick around longer than the prior.  

11) Black Elk-"Stab" from "Always A Six, Never A Nine"
I'm so glad people started ripping off the Jesus Lizard again. This Portland, OR band slash and burn (and step it up) on this, their second record and follow up to the equally scathing yet not as precise '06 self titled debut. Jagged, noisy rhythms with a more crushing take on AMREP destruction pave the way for psycho-babble screeching and full-on man-howling. My girlfriend's not a fan. Maybe that's a reason to like it...

12) Able Baker Fox-"Stuttering" from "Voices"
From the long distant collaborative writing effort between members of Small Brown Bike and The Casket Lottery comes the straight up indie-rawking Able Baker Fox. Tight, quality post-punk (or post-hardcore...whatever) with some great har-MAN-izing (Can I copyright that?). You can hear echoes of the members prior bands on "Voices" and if you're a fan of said bands, this will not disappoint.

13) Rebreather-"Sugarcord" from "Sunflower"
This some what under the radar OH stoner rock band is on again with this wrongfully overlooked, triumphant return of an album. Seamlessly blending sludgy, doom ridden stoner rock with the hypnotic, grandiose melody of HUM would seem to be no easy feat but Rebreather make the idea sound like a no brainer. This album sets the bar for stoner peers and I hope gets the attention it truly deserves.

14) Intronaut-"Cavernous Den Of Shame" from "Prehistoricisms"
Progressively sludgy...psychedelically jazzy...tribally heavy; all this and then some could be said about this bands sound. This technically proficient four piece can not only confound but they also know how to write memorable riffs and songs. Featuring one of the best and most creative bass players in metal, Joe Lester, this album can punish and then lull at the drop of a hat. Though not as memorable as 06's "Void"; "Prehistoricisms" is still a solid release and what I hope to be one of more in a long catalog from this prog-metal act. 

15) Transistor Transistor-"Pillar Of Salt" from "Ruined Lives"
In 2008, this is how a punk album should sound and feel. Confused, desperate and fed up; the lyrics actually seem to be about being in an overlooked punk band. Ironically, I'm a little surprised I didn't see this on more "Best of '08" lists. In the final year of the tyrannical George "Dubya" Boosh, this should be the youth of America's calling card. Scathing, reckless abandon is abundant on this more focus follow up to '05's "Erase All Name And Likeness".

16) Harvey Milk-"Skull Socks and Rope Shoes" from "Life...The Best Game In Town"
This long running, until recently over looked, Athens, GA dirge metal band often gets compared to the Melvins. Rightfully so, Harvey Milk does dredge the same mucky musical pond. (And member pond; one time Melvins bass player Joe Preston joined them for this recording.) Harvey Milk is more "southern blues man" serious however. I read this album kinda plays out like a greatest hits and I can agree with that. This album is gooood! The Melvins put a new album out in '08. You don't see that on this list, do ya?

17) Young Widows-"Old Skin" from "Old Wounds"
This is probably my most played album of '08. Though the half studio/half live feel was a little hard to get used to, this highly anticipated follow up to their debut "Settle Down City" did not disappoint. Shellac meets Jesus Lizard meets Fugazi meets "Rid of Me" era PJ Harvey meets Nirvana or something. Bass driven noisy rock featuring well written songs. Yes, actual songs! In other words, it's good...damn good. 

18) Capricorns-"Seventh Child Of A Seventh Child" from "River, Bear Your Bones"
I've stated that I'm sick of instrumental metal yet embarrassingly I keep finding instrumental metal bands I like. Though they maintain similarities to the textured flourishes of a band like Pelican, these Londoners seem to do it in more of an amped up heavier way. Think maybe Baroness as an instrumental band. I hear a good understanding of 70's British prog and metal too. Damn you Capricorns, you fuckin' jam! Thanks for making me eat my words!

19) Graveyard-"Lost In Confusion" from "Graveyard"
Whooaa maan, retro. This is 08's answer to last years "The Alchemist" by Witchcraft. No surprise, I think the two have toured together in Europe. Very authentic sounding 70's worship.
Someone payed attention to their parents record collection and apparently someone had some cool fucking parents.

20) Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan-"Come On Over (Turn Me On)" from "Sunday At Devil Dirt"
Kind of like a modern day take on Johnny Cash/June Carter duets. I pretty much love anything Mark Lanegan does. He truly can't be fucked with. This is their second collaborative effort and follow up to 06's "Ballad Of The Broken Seas". I think I like this one better. Their voices are both pleasantly haunting and complement each other nicely. This is a great album for a Sunday morning; sipping coffee, frying up some eggs and trying like hell to shake off the beer induced, heavy metal debauchery from the night before. 

Well, there ya go! I hope you enjoy the comp!

Hopefully '09 will bring more frequent posting from more contributers. I started this with hopes of making it sort of an online take of an old school zine. We'll see. Maybe it'll just continue to be me throwing around over inflated opinions.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Stupid shit I've heard since moving to the south: Vol. 1

So, I was in a discount book store a couple of months ago, right after I moved down here. You know, one of those last ditch effort places that attempt to sell currently irrelevant, formerly "relevant" auto biographies on some jack-off in the senate or I dunno, some super sweet, ultra-conservative  religious books on tape. Anyway, as in the south, this establishment had the local country station on the radio just cranking out what I assume to be the "hits". I assume this because my knowledge on the genre is, we'll say, limited at best. That and the cashier was "going for it" by audibly singing along.

The announcer came on in all his cheese ball, radio voice splendor and gave his spiel, "If you have any drive time requests...". Usually the banter would've just blended into the back ground but since Dolly Parton Jr. over there made me notice, I was listening. 

Announcer: "Let's go to the phones and get another request. Hi there caller, you have a request you'd like to share with us?"

Caller: "Yeah, I sure doo!" All excitedly twanged out, of course.

Announcer:"Great! What can we get on for ya then?

Caller: "I don't know...anythang!" Once again, very enthusiastically twangy.

Announcer: Understandable confused, "Anything?!"

Caller: As blissfully ignorant as ever, "Yeah, I don't care, anythaang!" 

I didn't listen to what was said after this as it was one of the dumber exchanges I've ever been subject to hearing. I was in "idiot shock". If I had to guess, I'm pretty sure it was stupid. 

Now, I and the rest of the United States of America could be confused about this; I always thought the point of going through the motion of physically making the effort of dialing the number of a radio station on the telephone DURING a request hour AND waiting for what could be upwards of ten minutes on hold was to have a song to tell the station to play!?! Who fucking calls a radio station without one idea what they'd like to hear?! Better yet, who couldn't just pull a song out of their ass on the spot even if they only listen to the radio gingerly puttering around on a daily basis?! I mean shit, she listened closely enough to catch the stations phone number to call, right? Really? Not one song idea? Really?!