1.SLUG GUTS "Down On The Meat" LP/CD (
LORD HAVE MERCY..this thing has not left my player since I first heard it a few months back.It's just too good!Some heavy Birthday Party worship is going on here indeed, but those low, gruff, slurred vocals put this in it's own dark corner.Heavy, downer outlaw-rock/post-punk at it's very finest.Heavily treated guitar twang and a rumbling bass lines carry the whole thing right to the end, and some of the hooks won't leave your skull for weeks.Songs about hookin' for rent, drinkin' alone, poverty, and just not giving a fuck about much in general, are all here in the form of a Rattlesnake skeleton, coiled around a dusty bottle of bourbon.I could go on about this forever.Do yourself a favor and buy it, and if you hate it, give it to one your miserable friends.New LP via Sacred Bones out sooner than later.
2.EXTRA LIFE "Made Flesh" LP/CD (loAF)
This band is by far one of the most accomplished acts of recent times, and their 2008 debut LP, "Secular Works" has still got me under it's spell.Wow.Members of Zs, Archaeopteryx, Period, Little Women, and a slew of other unique side projects) belt out some seriously deep and dark, pop-prog-classical-wave-what have you, and they are doing it oh so right.An insanely talented bunch of players, to say the least, and their chemistry is just bizarre.
Frontman Charlie Looker, former guitar/synth dude of super inventive chamber-jazz trio - Zs, gives us more than a little bit of insight to his hungry, tattered heart and soul.His unique and infectious vocals, somewhere between a deep chant and a fluttered croon, are exactly where they need to be at all times, and then some.On this record, he shows us what he's made of, even if it makes you uncomfortable at times.Themes include, but are not limited to - sex, death, sex, life, death, wants, needs, resurrection, property, whores, men, women, and the like.The line in "Head Shrinker" that goes "wet-petaled like a vagina" is just the tip of the thorn here.
Heavy yet delicate song structures go from grouped jazz breaks and Philip Glass-like classical nods, to technical guitar and synth beatings, and boggling drum patterns...and a million other directions before they close it out with the 11 minute + - "The Body Is True"..This is just an amazing record, and you should get to know this band before they disappear forever.Easily our favorite act of the 00's.
3. BLONDE REDHEAD "Penny Sparkle" (4AD)
The best part about this monumental institution that is goes by the name Blonde Readhead, besides having taken their name from a good DNA song, and well, every note that these three talented individuals play, is that they are as consistent as they come.They are perhaps the only group that I won't not hesitate even for a second, on buying into their newest record when it is released.Sure, they sometimes take 2-3 years between their albums, but payoff is BIG.Such is the case with this new one.
Penny Sparkle is really something special.It's sort of new ground for them, considering that there is very little guitar work at all.Those simple and thoughtful little riffs that flourished on past releases, especially "Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons" have been pushed to the background a bit, and in their place are some intensely DEEP synthesizer workouts.It took bit of getting used to, in all honesty, but by the third spin of this beast, I was done for.The tight, syncopated drumming that you may recall has also been put on hold for the moment, and filled in with dense, electronic machine bumps.A definite dance element thrives on this record, but they are careful about not shoving it down your throat, and keep it pretty fresh and interesting, and it's very minimal on the house thudding.
Songs about love and life and leaving and returning are all over this thing, and each song has it's own mood and tone, and nothing is dragged out or overdone.The highly danceable single for this record- "Not Getting There" has been running through my head at most hours of the day, for weeks now.These three have been doing this for such a long time now, that I'm pretty sure they all share the same brain.This is a powerful and beautiful piece of music.Sad, hopeful, somber and exhilarating all in the same package, and that's just what they are good at.HAIL.
4.DUCKTAILS "III: Arcade Dynamics" (Woodsist)
The main man behind NJ's favorite laid back pop group Real Estate, gets this awesome record out just in time to blow my mind wide open, and make this shifty list.He's really grown into his music in the last two years, and this new full length is by far the best thing I've heard from him since the Real Estate LP came out.It's just so easy to listen to any time of the day, and pleasantly ignorable when you want it to be.
Well written folk-tinged pop songs are his forte, and his talents really shine on this album.If you are familiar with past Ducktails releases, you will know that they are very lo-fiThis record is perfect for road trips, pool parties, and I'd imagine it to be a good soundtrack for anything involving weed, booze, and the sun.Party pop, if your party is a tubin' down a lazy river with your pals.Breeeezzzzyyy times.
5. THE BITTERS "East General" CS (RTB)
This was definitely one heck of a nice surprise.After reading a ton of hype around this for a few weeks, I got a few for the label's distro, and popped it in for a listen.What you get is some well played, and frighteningly catchy, dark cave-pop shakers, mixed with some downer post-punk and goth nods, killer garage rock banging, and nice, layered girl group harmonies.Total mind blower, front to back.This girl's got quite a range, and all these styles seem to mesh together insanely well.A few saxophone cameos, to top it off.Stellar.
6.SEX WORKER "Waving Goodbye" LP (Not Not Fun)
I stand firmly by NNF's output, and rarely do I find a release that I don't fancy, but they really got a hold of me with this one.Ex-Black Eye, Daniel Martin-McComick is Sex Worker.He makes some amazing minimal electro/drone music for dancing alone in your bedroom.His high-pitched voice belts out songs of love and loss and losing love.The first track on the LP, "Tough Love" has got to be about worn out by all of the repeat listening it gets at home.His use of minimal beats and the sprawling analog synths give the record a vintage cold wave vibe, and nothing drags out for too long, which is my usual beef with this stuff.Quite the departure from his more ethereal, drone-anthems on his debut "Labor of Love" LP, which is also really great.The lyrics are up front and deep and quite honest, so it seems.This works best with headphones, like most personal things of this nature.Recommended listening goes for both LP's.His split 7" with lady friend Psychic Reality is a good one, too.
7.POCAHAUNTED - "Make It Real" LP/CD (Not Not Fun)
I've had a soft spot for these ladies for quite some time now, and they have hypnotized us with a literal slew of styles and given it to us in so many various forms and lineups over the years.Their latest incarnation, and said "final recording" comes in the form of a full band, with electric bass, drums, keys, awesome guitar work provided by Mr. Sun Araw himself, and of course a mesmerizing and haunting dual vocal chants.They definitely pulled out all the stops on this monster, pushing for more of a classic psych/soul vibe, and keeping it loose and laid back.There's still a fair share of that old drone and lull they are so good at, but this one's a banger for sure.Catchy chorus lines and riffs that I am still humming almost a year later.I am going to miss this band like crazy.They just released a new and final, actual final 7".It's called Threshold and it's amazing as well.Get into them.See also: Best Coast, Vibes, Topaz Rags, LA Vampires.California should be proud.
8. POP. 1280 "The Grid" 12inch EP (Sacred Bones)
This band is killing it this year.Their debut 7" was by far two of the best songs I've come across on a single, in a while.Their split with Hot Guts will also rattle your skull a bit.This is their long awaited EP.This act is hard to pin, and everything they release seems to push them in another direction, but not so far that you don't remember what you are listening to.Their sound is absolutely something all their own, and has been compared to the likes of Chrome Cranks, Pussy Galore, and Black Flag.I hear all three, and then some.Brash, confrontational, and mean waved-out downer punk done how they want it done.There are no guidelines in their music, and that is what holds their charm.There is a bit of Birthday Party nodding, and some 80's industrial machine-stomp on some of the drums, too.It's great.The vocals are spiteful, tortured rants, and barely stay in any sort of key structure.J. Skultrane uses his scratchy voice just as any guitar player or drummer would beat the hell out of their instruments.Straight forward, a little weird, dark, and cranked WAY up is their game, and they play it so so well.Worth the hunt for that 7" for sure.Whoa.
9.SWANS "My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky" LP/CD (Young God)
What is there to say about this household name that hasn't been said sometime in the last 20 plus years?Michael Gira called it quits for them almost 14 years ago, and most of us never imagined this ever happening again.Swans are back, and incredible as ever.This is their first recording in 15 years, and you would have no idea of this by listening to it.It's brilliant.So many different elements of the more tasteful bits of metal, goth, folk, americana, and just plain old heavy riffing.It's a new Swans record.It's amazing.Pick it up.That's all.
10. Zs "New Slaves" LP/CD (Social Registry)
Brooklyn's one and only Zs unleash their second proper full length on our virgin ears, and it pretty much murdered everything I thought I knew about sound, in the best ways.The title track is one of the most accomplished, unique, and brutal pieces of work I've had the pleasure of obsessing over.Bizarre timings are what they know best, and their work all the way up to this album has proved it over and over again, but as crazy and out there as this one tends to go at times, it's by far their most accessible, too.Extremely catchy, neck sore inducing, guitar/sax/drum trio that belts free jazz-metal-chamber-wave as more of slaughter of the senses.Two of the tracks are from the entire band, and will make you dizzy, and the others are individual members' "personal" pieces.Whatever you want to call this band, they aren't going anywhere but up and waaaayyyy out, and I hope they do it for a long time.I still get goosebumps from the 1:32 mark on "Acres of Skin".Hail to Zs.