Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best of 2012 Vol. I - Head In A Box: The Musical

Screaming Females | Ugly
Final Club | Blank Entertainment
Northern Liberties | Glowing Brain Garden
Uranium Orchard | s/t
Family Band | Grace & Lies
Connections | Private Airplane
Christian Mistress | Possession
D’eon | LP
Cat Power | Sun
The Dream | Terius Nash: 1977
Death Grips | Ex-Military, Black Google, The Money Store, NO LOVE WEB DEEP
Botanist | I: The Suicide Tree & II: A Rose From The Dead, III: Doom in Bloom/Allies
Nervosas | Ardentes, Rev 45, Descension
Sky Ferrierra – “Everything is Embarrassing”
Acid Pauli – Johnny Cash/Will Oldham “I See A Darkness”

Gut and theory; the most impressive musical documents from the past year (and change) bolster exceptional proportions of typically disparate hallmarks. Sometimes a person just has to clear their throat. No subtext. Still, it is with intent to speak.

Early American songbooks consist of spirituals. Jazz rode the coattails of social hedonism. Punks committed to nihilism. Rap is accepting of a vague to outright Christian backbone. In hardcore, while the politic mutates, a certain fundamentalism is ever-present. Now consider the agnostic flim-flam liberalism that all rock filed as underground, college, indie, and alternative; is couched in, pigeonholed as, or assumed to be. Fucking yawn. What this - let’s call it a demographic, lacks in a belief system was once supplanted by exceptional range and taste in music. Yet the current trend is to cite capitalized abstract nouns and an expressed distaste for music as inspiration; and when you’re out too late and feeling uncomfortable somewhere, you can always call on dad rock. I digress. As always, those with ideologies at hand produce something true, even if they make it up.

Screaming Females / Ugly
This record sits at the top of my list faithful to both a chronological and a qualitative retrospection; and it is with leveled satisfaction that I cite Screaming Females’ Ugly as my favorite record of 2012, as I think back to the amount of hair, sleep, fingernail-matter, and self-esteem I lost trying to pen this review, officially my first, back in April.

Final Club / Blank Entertainment
The acme of Common Era garage pop for people who read. This record was sent to the palpable inbox, bereft of any disclosure, and I at once imagined it the result of an after-school program for ivy league graduate students, vibing off MTV’s representation of lo-fi, inspired by Vampire Weekend, and putting everyone with a goofy stamp all but tattooed on the back of their hand to shame with it’s exacting heady house-party perfection. Before I took a stroll on the Internet, this deduction explained why Final Club was not ubiquitous royalty in the Wavves etcetera scene. Turns out these folks are from Denton, Texas; and not an ivy-league social group, but the side-project of familiar bands (like Teenage Cool Kids). Why they are not the top-billing voice of a generation must have something to do with the all the more elite membership of those liking music this good.

Family Band / Grace & Lies
Nine luscious incantations balanced atop heavy swells of narcotic ore; dispatched from a preternatural, androgynous oracle. Back on earth, Grace & Lies is the debut album of a Brooklyn couple living together in the woods. While the backstory is ultimately harmless, the buttress of this album is first person omnipotence, and it transcends anything tagged with “Brooklyn” or “sustainable living”. Family Band is like the priestess Pythia channeling Apollo at Delphi (the reading that interprets the prophetess as languid, inspired and intelligible, rather than a mouthpiece for gibberish).

Uranium Orchard / 1st LP
The weird-tipped hardcore/punk trio Dry-Rot begat Uranium Orchard, and the transformation is akin to Mekons “Where Were You?” to “Teeth/Guardian/Kill/Stay Cool”. From Dry-Rot, Jordan Darby and Drew Wardkin took a belief system and working interest in music, and left bygone inflated shock tactics. Sure, over half the lyrics are pulled from Mein Kampf, but you’re humming “For the first time, men of natural and patriotic mind became rebels” to the resurrected ideologies of Truman’s Water, Polvo, Hood, and what they were drinking too.

Northern Liberties / Glowing Brain Garden
Use this album as a manageable entry point into the world of the Duerr brothers and their longtime best friend Kevin Riley; who, together for over a decade, have been crafting what they call “ghost punk” - and I’m inclined to take their word for it. In the least because they have always created within the confines of vocals, percussion, and bass; bending to Occam’s Razor - the law of parsimony, which states that until a greater demonstration reveals itself as necessary, the most succinct one shall rule.

Connections / Private Airplane
Connections’ debut album Private Airplane appears to have been pre-released exclusively to those on the Ohio Internet. Meaning, for those in Central Ohio and in the know, the polished pop gems on Private Airplane, to be solicited nationally in 2013, were attainable before the new year. I think it is being logged with a safe majority to say that however circumstantially this came to pass does not deprive the preview of its enchantment. A cursory look at this byproduct of affairs, and it’s a members-only preview; a token of appreciation to a loyal fan base. But as Connections is a newly minted coin, and not some time-honored collector’s item, this gesture would have to have been facilitated by an onus-busting third party Other, with footing in Ohio rock mythology: Why stop now. It is precisely this intangible, magical-way-of-thinking-for-no-reason that infuses Private Airplane, that ranks this album - not of 2012, or 2013, or December, or last week, or that one shitty day you would have had if it weren’t for this album, but as timeless. Most songs crafted today with the original recipe: guitar, bass, drums and vocals, are affected disasters, worthy of that apocalyptic flush. Alternately, Private Airplane hugs the transcendence theory. I now know not be disheartened when my absolutes are untranslatable, but that doesn’t make them any less absolute. Preaching to the choir feels good today; some things can be left unsaid. Connections is absolutely.