Friday, 6 January 2012

End of the year, part I

It's cliché, and it's not all that necessary if you've been paying attention to worthwhile blogs at all last year, but it's the norm and it doesn't hurt to concisely compile a collection of enjoyable records for the sake of convenience.
So for all that, and to keep this blog alive, here's a lowdown of what 2011 had to offer;

Alex Zhang Hungtai, better known as Dirty Beaches, has released his fair share of cassettes and EPs, but last year marked the debut of the Dirty Beaches LP.
"Badlands" is everything an Album of the Year should be; it's enthralling, it's well crafted, it's subtle, and it know its history.
From the opening repetition of "Speedway King", to the pained self-doubting shrieks in "Sweet 17", this is a record that holds nothing back.
Clearly doused in more no wave and rockabilly influence than humanely possible, Dirty Beaches serves up the lo-fi noise rock equivalent of a self depreciating blues release.
If this isn't already spinning in your home non-stop, you can still purchase the LP here.

Dirty Beaches - Badlands

The Men have consistently released brilliant records - from their debut "We Are The Men" LP, their split cassette with fellow Brooklyn-bastards the Nomos, to their sterling second LP "Immaculada" - and have a consistency to be weird.
Their first release on prestigious label Sacred Bones is nothing short of their usual offerings. This isn't to say it is in the slightest bit boring, nor predictable.
Infact, The Men are predictably unpredictable. From their famous live shows, to their aforementioned releases, these boys don't like you to see them coming.
"Leave Home" produces more noise rock strangeness. Opening with the gazing "If You Leave..." (clocking in at 7:38 minutes), the listener is instantly tested. Those not familar with The Men may be tempted to leave (irony not withstanding), however those that stay are treated to a plethora of genre-bending depravity.
Mid album pacer "L.A.D.O.C.H" is a fan favourite for it's Siege style savagery, but it's with tracks like "Shittin' With the Shah" - which offers a post-punk piece of mind - where the album really shines.
This record is must for any who appreciate good punk done well, and can still be had over here.

The Men - Leave Home

One of last years finest - and most talked about - releases is surely the product of Danish darlings Iceage, a band who blew up almost over night.
Before there was hoardes upon hoardes of angry punks disowning this band, there was the uncompromising LP "New Brigade". A record so incredibly crafted, it (along with press coverage) propelled the band to somewhat stardom.
Ignoring their current hype and hatred, Iceage were once a small punk band of friends who would listen to the latest Posh Isolation releases and make zines around offensive art. And they still are, regardless of what you may read.
They released their first 7" in 2009, and it was great. Yet it wasn't until fellow Danes - and close friends - Sexdrome garnered attention, that they really gained any interest. Then came their debut LP, "New Brigade".
The finest no wave throwback since Lydia Lunch drifted into obscurity, this album is nothing short of unstoppable. Steeped in the lore of their land, and coupled with driving post-punk, Iceage delivered what every good punk hoped for.
Then the press heard them, and everyone dropped their interest for fear of not looking chic enough. Yet if you didn't give up on them, you'll know they released an equally enjoyable lo-fi live tape on Posh Isolation not too long ago.
You can still pick up this record here, and you should regardless of their current status.

Iceage - New Brigade

This record already received a great review from fellow Pagan-p writer Josh Turner, over here.
However, I will say it's a great garage rock record.
Kind of like if Thurston Moore had been listening to nothing but "Odessey and Oracle" and called up J. Mascis (who'd been listening to "Pet Sounds" all week) to get really high and jam out something like but not at all close to "Their Satanic Majesties Request".
I'm sure you can still request a copy over here.

Otro Mundo - Jellied

Currently, one part of acclaimed post-punk act Merchandise, and formally of hardcore trend setters Cult Ritual, David Vassalotti released his debut solo LP - and it is nothing shy of spectacular.
Previously known under the moniker (), and now by D. Vassalotti, this record is full of post-punk vigor and twinges of twee-pop, Tampa's favourite son has produced one of the most sorrowful and beautiful releases to come out in recent years.
Unfortunately, this appears to be sold out - but keep one eye on here for news otherwise. Download link courtesy of I Could Die Tomorrow.

D. Vassalotti - Book of Ghosts

Polish born sweetheart Ela Orleans released the beautiful "Neo Pi-R" last year, full of lucious lo-fidelity twee-pop.
With a tendency for Victorian imagery, Ela produces some of the most interesting post-punk to be heard. Whether it is the haunting repetition of "Living World", or the juxtaposing jovial-misery of "Walking Man", a gentler record cannot be had.
Grab a copy, now on vinyl, here.

Ela Orleans - Neo Pi-R

It was a toss up between the third demo, or their "Cursed Means" cassette, but a release by Yorkshire juggernauts - of black metal inflicted punk - Sump had to make its way onto my list.
I chose their demo cassette due to its awe-inspiring artwork, and entrancing melodies. Personal favourite "Shannon" is also present here, with lyrics such as "Little Shannon's not home today. Went out to play, and not a word at all", a clear Sotos influence is contrasted with their darkly British humour in the chorus "Shannon isn't dead. She's under that bed"; inspired by the Shannon Matthews scandal years prior.
All Sump releases can still be purchased here.

Sump - Demo III

Group Doueh are, without a doubt, the single most interesting Saharan guitar ensemble going.
This, their fourth record for label Sublime Frequencies, offers yet another diverse aspect of their repertoire. With the decision to include a drum kit on this recording, we are rewarded with an almost tribal element to compliment Salmou "Doueh" Bamaar's desert guitar strangeness.
Although not the most punk record to ever grace PP, this is still an earth-shattering releases. For those who favor "The Process of Weeding Out" above all alse.
Order a copy here.

Group Doueh - Zayna Jumma

Sealings are lo-fi death rock band from Brighton, England; and they produce some of the most interesting punk to come out of our little land.
Their untitled cassette, for label Italian Beach Babes, is untouchable.
With more gazing of shoes and Suicide worship, this EP is exactly what you expect. Perfect.
Completely sold out now, but pay attention here for news. For more information on the band, see Josh's interview with them here.

Sealings - Untitled

The second release on this list from the Dogmeat circle of friends, is Jackman's sophomore record "Bad Intentions". Complete with a fresh take on the vocal aspect (this time seemingly less perverted drawl and more predatory growl) and more bent-up bile, we are gifted with more hate-filled hardcore punk from this Danish recluse.
Sold out from label Posh Isolation.

Jackman - Bad Intentions

Although originally released in 2009, TeePee's "Morals" recieved a deluxe edition reissue this year, and is more than worthy of its place on this list.
Miami's Eric Lopez-Zareno produces some of the most monged out and beautiful lo-fidelity psychedlic droning. Needless to say this has earned your ear.
Purchase and download from the link below.

TeePee - Morals

The first pure noise release on this list, Alberich's "Pyschology of Love" is absolutely astounding.
Including tracks from his renown "Rumbala" casssette, this is record should not be overlooked for those with a fetish for heavy electronics.
Still available for puchase from Hospital Productions.

Alberich - Psychology of Love

Piresian Beach is a one-woman-band from Hungary, producing some of the sweetest and dumbfounding bedroom punk as of late.
From the same scene as Nohopekids, Zombie Girlfriend and Amstetten Bedroom Punk. This is more lo-fi twee-punk not to be missed.

Piresian Beach - Fuck Your Mind

The second record on this list to be the product of George Proctor's outpourings, White Medal's "Alone as Owt" is more from Britain's finest Black Metal act.
Filled with Yorkshire lore and tongue, this release is completely without fault and wholly with repentant joy.
Purchase the entire White Medal discography here.

White Medal - Alone as Owt

A product of an unbridled love for everything Sub-Pop and Blast First, Psychic Blood are one of the most promising and uncompromising new bands.
A full write-up on the band by Pagan-p writer Josh can be had here.
Their debut 7" "Strain", is on the contrast to their previous releases. Favouring less shoegaze garage rock - and more of the heavy grind noise rock sound - this time around we see them more as the Melvins than Dinosaur Jr. A welcome progression.

Psychic Blood - Strain

Neo Cons are a furious and righteous band out of the Bay Area, that I guarantee you're all too familiar with - or should be.
Boasting former members of hardcore stalwarts 86 Mentality and Streetwalkers, Neo Cons are one of the most straight forward, no gimmicks, down to brass tacks bands going today.
Too many bands claim to be hardcore - as hardcore should be - without being throwbacks, and too many bands are a disappointment.
Neo Cons fail to disappoint. This record, complete with its Jesus and the Gospelfuckers cover, fails to disappoint.
Purchase the 7" here.

Neo Cons - Hardcore Elite/Fuck the Police

From one half of psychedelic drone duo Barn Owl, and the persona behind the ambient Elm releases, comes "Undercurrent"; a luscious display of distorted frequencies and sublime guitars.
Arguably more refined than his home-recorded Elm releases, Jon's talent for the beauty in static is ever present on this LP - and personally, I prefer it over Barn Owl's latest output.
You can still own a copy through Root Strata.

Jon Porras - Undercurrent

The second face of Moires, more commonly known by Gnaw Their Tongues, is De Magia Veterum; a powerfully enthralling ambient black metal band.
The latest offering from the tormented Netherlander is "The Divine Antithesis", a record so painstakingly good, multiple listens are required to truly breach the surface.

De Magia Veterum - The Divine Antithesis

The first record on this list to be released by prestigious stalwarts of punk, Youth Attack!, is Suburbanite's self titled debut.
Featuring the mastermind behind both Aerosols and Wasteland, Suburbanite are the band most punks held their breath for.
It payed off. This EP is jaw-dropping. Aggressive, blown out, hardcore punk done good.
Long since sold out, the only thing you can do is wait for the inevitable second run - or feed the flippers.

Suburbanite - S/T

Little to no infomration exists on this duo of Teddy and Alex, playing complete fuzzed out and funky thrashcore weirdness.
Claiming to be the perfect music for "shredding the pool in the summertime", their debut cassette delivers and impresses.
Copies are still available here.

Earthsurfers - Ryders of the Wyld Wave

From the outpourings of He Who Crushes Teeth, one half of revered raw black metal act Bone Awl, comes Raspberry Bulbs.
Leaning heavily towards the punk spectrum, this release is of the rawest hide and should be heeded too.
Purchase here, lest you want to be branded a thief.

Raspberry Bulbs - Nature Tries Again

Playing blown out hardcore a-la The U-Men and very early Meat Puppets, Winnipeg ensemlbe Self-Interest bring you their debut EP "Blooming".
Bone-shakingly good, this 7" picks up where their two previous cassettes left off. Finding the band progressing with musical influence, and crafting a marvelous record that wouldn't have looked out of place on later era SST.
Pick up the record over at Pass Judgement.

Self-Interest - Blooming

Lust for Youth are a lo-fi dark wave band from Sweden, playing subtle melodies and haunting overtures of noise.
Their debut LP "Solar Flare" is undeniably infectious and will corner you into submission until you find yourself humming along to their danceable static.
Claim yourself a copy via Avant Records. Link courtesy of I Could Die Tomorrow.

Lust for Youth - Solar Flare

Another release from linchpins Youth Attack!, Grinning Death's Head's "Black Sun Rising" cassette is an unstoppable juggernaut of raw punk rock inflicted black metal.
Famous for its delay inducing lavish packaging, this record incases some of the finest tunes the label has ever produced. Long since sold out, and I'm not sure it will ever resurface again.

Grinning Death's Head - Black Sun Rising

Sightings hail from New York City and play some of the most interesting avant-garde noise rock to date. Their latest LP "Future Accidents" is a marvelously structured work of art; combining all the key components in the formula to static bliss.
Own a copy through label Our Mouth Records.

Sightings - Future Accidents

Vanishing Leper is product of Jordan Darby (Dry-Rot) and Justin De Torre (Mind Eraser), and it is unfathomably great.
Claiming influence from "Eastern-inflected psychedelic bands of the 1960's" and producing some of the most obtuse and brilliant noise rock and post-punk collaborative strangeness, these two gentlemen have compromised one of the greatest records of the year - nay years.
At one time, purchasing this record would have given proceed to Amnesty International - unfortunately, this perfect release is sold out. Link courtesy of New Fits.

Vanishing Leper - S/T

The last release on this list from the Dogmeat circle, Redflesh's debut release "Death Society".
Playing ravenous raw punk rock and compromising themselves of multiple members from multiple bands, this demo cassette is one of the greatest gems from the Danish scene.

Redflesh - Death Society

Another Posh Isolation product, Caucasian Colony deliver painstaking brilliance to your cranium.
Their latest offering "Stars of Africa" is as cruelly delightful as its title. Enjoy layer upon layer of distortion for free, as it's long sold out.

Caucasian Colony - Stars of Africa

Released on Record Store Day, Merchandise produced the brilliant and obscure EP "Es Muerte".
Complete with brash A-Side and Silver Jews cover on the B-Side, this 7" is wonderfully constructed and a challenge to penetrate.
Link taken from I Could Die Tomorrow.

Merchandise - Es Muerte

The latest offering from Raw Nerve, their "Midnight" EP finds them at their most interesting and progressive.
Playing the same fast and offensive hardcore as always, Ryan Lowry and co have upped the ante with more influence in the mix.
Arguably their strongest output, this 7" is long since gone.

Raw Nerve - Midnight

Thanks to all labels and blogs involved in the releasing and distribution of these records.
- Thom

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