Sam Potrykus puts out the Boston Counter Cultural Compass. He also plays in The Needy Visions, books for Bodies of Water Shows and contributes to the Boston Hassle. Here are his top ten records of 2011.
TOP TEN RECORDS of 2011 (in no order)
DOPE BODY – NUPPING (HOSS)
Dope Body are brutal Baltimore badasses who have brought Boston a butt whooping a couple times now. If you missed them watch the video for Enemy Outta Me and you’ll wish you hadn’t. That is if groovy, heavy, noisy punk is your thing. It’s an exciting species indeed and Dope Body has more spunk and tenacity than most of the bands exploring it. They have that awesome Baltimore zeal for weird and that east coast hardcore intensity which makes for one superior rock and roll clamor. Nupping knocks you on your ass over and over again with crushing guitar/bass riffs and primal outbursts of beats, noise, and man. Bangers and Yos, yo.
GDFX – One Thing (Impose)
07 PIPEDREAM by Impose Records
GDFX is the solo electronic enterprise of Greg Fox. You might know this NYC mad man drummer from his work with Teeth Mountain, the Dan Deacon Ensemble, Liturgy, Guardian Alien, or even sitting in with Man Forever and White Hills. But the last time he was in Boston it was as GDFX and he made quite an impression at Twin Towers. Greg has an impeccable taste for weird electronic sounds and he is able to mesh them perfectly with seriously buck wild dance beats. If you enjoy most heady electronic palpitation there’s at least One Thing I can recommend.
Happy Jawbone Family Band – OK Midnight, You Win (Feeding Tube)
OK Midnight, You Win came out on the incredibly important Northampton record label (and store) FEEDING TUBE RECORDS last year and it made me face the fact that I am obsessed with Happy Jawbone Family Band. The Brattleboro Vermont lo-fi pop posse knows how to keep it’s fans happy too: they’re constantly playing Boston area shows with only the best bands, there’s a rewarding fan club, and they keep it fresh with new tunes both live and on record. I’m down with all of their previous recordings but they pretty much nailed it on OK, Midnight. They slay fun upbeat jammers and slow stony rock drones alike. Exceptionally catchy pop songs, raw and honest presentation, all in a slightly weird and psychedelic haze, and every track is good. What more can you ask for?
ASHRAE FAX – STATIC CRASH (Hot Releases).
Mark from Hunnie Bunnies turned me on to this recently and it has changed my life. Hot Releases themselves sez it best: “Reissue of the classic 2003 album, first time on vinyl, by the great under-heralded Greensboro NC band. This is a record out of time, an essential, intense, highly listenable haunted mix of synth pop, ethereal vocals, with touches of ambient and cold electronic noise. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you are into any of these sounds. Previously released as cd-r way back when and recently in cassette format on Matt Franco’s NAZOT label, it brings us great pride and unique joy to finally make it available on vinyl … truly a highlight of our catalog. The members have since gone on to their own individual and very different musical departures, with Alex Chesney making solo electronic music (ranging from breakcore to acid house), and Renee Mendoza Haran playing with Filthybird. 300 copies”. This music is EMPOWERING. Find it.
QUILT – QUILT (Mexican Summer)
Quilt is one of the best bands in Boston. They’ve always been hot but right now they’re on fire. Maybe that’s why their debut LP makes me feel like I’m wrapped in a warm blanket. It could indeed be the tremendous sense of pride I feel seeing my friends get such great nation-wide reception. Then again it could simply be the perfectly captured, fresh batch of killer psych pop tunes they deliver. Either way, I hope it makes you feel the same.
UNKOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA – S/T (Fat Possum)
Dan Shea turned me on to this not too long ago and it made me completely re-evalutate my favorite records of the year. These New Zealand turned Portland Oregon psych trailblazers played at the Paradise just a few months back and I had no idea. Luckily I have good friends who can’t help themselves from sharing outstanding records. Unknown Mortal Orchestra make some of the most catchy, feel good, funky, and psychedelic pop songs I have ever heard, definitely in 2011. They are a super versatile band and their sound is always otherwordly but they manage to keep it totally accessible, which is exactly what it means to be a great pop band in my opinion. Enjoy the ride this record provides.
2 Ton Bug – Wedding of the Century
Not positive that this came out in 2011 but it was definitely the year it melted my brain. These New Haven Connecticut freaks play their own brand of psychotic, noisy and catchy punk/country/hardcore. It’s actually hard to pinpoint… Fat fuzz bass held down by keytar, trashcan drums, psychedelic lead guitar and wailing female vocals through a megaphone. Their songs send you off on a runaway train of rock and roll madness only to derail you suddenly with dope ass grooves. Always nasty.
CAVE – NEVERENDLESS (Drag City)
Chicago psych rock powerhouse CAVE has graced us with their presence on multiple occasions. The first time I saw them up close was at the Temple in 2010 with Prince Rama, Skimask, Lord Jeff and The Needy Visions. When they returned last year to What We Talk About to play with Guerilla Toss and Herbcraft they brought with them Neverendless, their latest effort on Drag City, and an even more captivating set of krauty jams. Their new stuff has the same essential elements of their last couple releases like powerful, pulsing motorik beats and dreamy, droney synthscapes but this record seems somewhat more calculated than the others. I once thought of Cave as a pretty wild and unpredictable band but with their new slightly stripped down line-up their sound seems to be much more focused and deliberate. One thing hasn’t changed though, Cave knows exactly what they are doing: Keeping the groove Neverendless.
CHRISTMAS – S/T (Highfives and Handshakes)
Some times you just need some punk fury. I personally like mine with wailing guitar riffs and funky bass lines. Reverbed out drums and haunting female vocals don’t hurt either. But what really puts Christmas over the top for me is the fucking attitude. I wasn’t entirely sure before but psychedelic surf punk IS a genre and I think I’m in love with it. Christmas managed to play the Muthership in JP this past year without leveling the joint. Our minds however were another story, domes were blown. These Olympia, Washington natives are true DIY shrimps and make for a super hard working band. Really glad I picked this record up, its been my go-to throw a fit record all year long. They’ve also got a number of killer seven inches which is always nice when a band RULES.
DISTRACTIONS – DARK GREEN SEA (Inifinite Best)
032 Distractions from Kyle Obriot on Vimeo.
If you think you like pure pop music, you need some Distractions. This Chicago five piece played at Gay Gardens last year and their heavenly vibes have been with me ever since. I’m talking incredibly memorable tunes presented in a most dreamy fashion. This album was originally released in a limited, cassette-only edition on the Plus Tapes label, but then it was remixed and mastered for vinyl by Udbhav Gupta of Twin Sister. Definitely get your hands on it. Not sure how much we’ll be hearing from them in the future as they seem to be on an indefinite hiatus but Distractions members are keeping plenty busy with several awesome (and completely stylistically varied) releases found on new Chicago tape label Teen River. Look into it.