KRIS THOMPSON’S RECORDS THAT DREW CHROME TEARS FROM THE THIRD EYE OF 2012
Kris Thompson has carved his local groove by logging time with BOBB TRIMBLE’S FLYING SPIDERS, THE PREFAB MESSIAHS, ABUNAI!, CONCORD BALLET ORCHESTRA PLAYERS, TWILIGHT TIPI, NISI PERIOD, THE LOTHARS, and others…
I don’t have to tell you how hard it is keeping track of the nonstop flood of new music. These all sounded great to me this year, though, so enjoy the sights and sounds. Also, there are 11… so shoot me! Alpha order by artiste/groop name.
Some bands can pull you into the twilight zone instantly, and these high sheriffs from Nottingham UK are among ’em. Their reverbed, organ-driven and lazy-paced song-slabs can recall Spacemen 3, but they’re a few rings ‘furthur’ out into the upper atmosphere. Stoked to be seeing them at the next Austin Psych Fest!
I usually wouldn’t include a 3-song EP in a year-end list, but this exception is based on their having bowled me over at the HOMEGROWN 4 fest (November in Cambridge). These Philly beasts menace trippily with an unlikely-but-great combination of 60s/current garage psych, 80s UK post-punk, and some early Sonic Youth and Cramps grit thrown in. Don’t miss ’em!
Maybe you saw French-person Gregory Raimo’s wild-eyed Gunslingers when they scorched The Butcher Shoppe back in the Spring of 2010. What a night! While that group indulges Raimo’s heavy garage-riffing Jap-Rock urges, he also pours similar intensity into his “more experimental” solo projects. He’s recorded under the GR moniker previously, and also as Paralytic Fluxus and The High Speed Recording Complex. As before, he smashes together the raw bleeding power of garage rock with experimental, avant-prog, and post-punk for a bracing collection of body-and-mind-rocking sounds.
(Sorry for the ad at the start of this vid! Blame Mexican Summer, I guess…)
HERBCRAFT – Flowering (Julia Dream)
This was a limited-to-99 edition of a cassette on the UK label Julia Dream, but you can still hear some of the songs on Soundcloud or Bandcamp. You can’t hear all of them, though, in a refreshing (but frustrating?) nod to the value of (and respect toward) the physical artifact. Herbcraft has taken various forms; while currently a duo, Matt Lajoie wove the organic fibers of this devotional fever-dream on his lonesome whilst under the literary sways of “The Secret Life of Plants” and some Aleister Crowley esoterica. Gods bless the Herbcraft and all who sail with her! Invite me to tea and I’ll bring along the cassette.
I first saw Indian Jewelry in Sept. ’08 at Tufts U., in a fantastic bill with Prince Rama (then, “…of Ayodhya”) that my group Concord Ballet Orchestra Players warmed up the crowd for. IJ’s sound was a real zap to the cortex — a clattering stewpot of rock/psych/dark/electro/noise something-or-other. I’ve caught them twice since (including at the opening pre-party show for last year’s Austin Psych Fest), and they’re still right on the money, although evolving of course. I totally love their 2008 album ‘Free Gold!’ album — still a great one to these ears — and this one is equally digable. The guitars and synths are still buzzing away, the overall sound is hazy and sweet, the acoustic and electro-drums offset each other well, and the vocals are a touch more confident while still trancefully disaffected.
This was an unusual and daring move for a band of any stripe — this Brooklyn experimental pop band issued a dub remix rendering of their entire previous album (Actually). Having the band’s creative atmospheric songs as source material was a great starting point — but the success of the project was achieved by bandmember/producer Toshio Masuda, who deep-shuffled the arrangements-deck and both revealed and created new inner workings to the songs. It’s supremely fresh, sounding like an achievement that’s entirely separate from it’s “parent” project.
Most folks around here know how ridiculously great this trippy NH flower-rock collective is, but in the interest of public service I don’t mind pouring molten praise for them into some outlying nooks and crannies. Only Children finds them still working their intoxicating spellcasting. Theirs is one of the most unique sounds around — taking 60s psych-pop (a la Zombies, Plastic Cloud, and ’68-era Cryan Shames) and infusing it with minor-key menace, skillful part-weaving and a beefier modern feel — oh, and more trippiness! The new recording brings a warmer, broader and fuller palette to bear, and not a whit of their previous charms have been sacrificed. A recent lineup switch sent Aaron Neveu off to NY adventures with Woods, while adding Kevin Lareau from The Migs and Lukas Goudreault from The New Highway Hymnal to the ranks. Several recent shows reveal this band of gypsies to still be in tip-top gear. Onward!
I know very little about this project, other then that it’s perpetrated by folks name Keisha and Ryan T. Winn, who possibly split time between Virginia and Washington State. As far as I know, nothing of theirs has made it to physical format (other than a couple of cassette EPs in the early 00s), and (attention labels!) that needs to change. The sounds on this EP are experimental, buzzy, spacey, and luscious — occupying a sweet zone where Coil, Eno, Slowdive, and other celestials orbit.
Hozac is a pretty amazing label, it being home to some of the greatest neo-garage releases and all. And when a band on said roster names itself after one of the best songs of all time, you just gotta lend ’em a third ear. Fortunately, a chance taken with Chicago’s Radar Eyes involves no wasted time at all. Their brash and reverb-soaked sound is grainy yet expansive — you could even call its atmospheric buoyancy “semi-anthemic”, yet it never slips into any dorkiness whatsoever. I liked the song for the above vid better then this official one for “Summer Chills”, but they’re both great. And hey, check ’em out live too. There’s no shortage of contempo bands trying to play in the garage-pop-slop sandbox, yet so few who do it this well. Extremely solid record — and just when you think you have their thing figured out, they toss in a final track (“Side of the Road”) whose primal pulsed synth and brooding baritone sounds like some mad salad tossed with Suicide, Crystal Stilts and The Damned.
“Humboldt County’s finest contemporary experimental unit” — sure, I’ll buy that. For a spacious and engaging avant-blissout, look no further. Their expanses of shamanic synth-washes, punctuated by harp, bells, percussion and nature sounds will have you studying spots on the ceiling with angel-headed fervor. They’ve been honing their craft for quite a while (since ’98), and the fruits of their dedication are a thing of barely-speakable (and yes, “weird”) beauty. Also watch for continuing excellent adventures from Ensemble Economique, featuring Brian Pyle from the ‘Weirdos.
VARIOUS ARTISTS – For Lee Jackson in Space (online tribute/benefit)
This 94(!)-track Bandcamp compilation is a sonic monument to the life of Texas writer Lee Jackson. Lee departed this earthly plane far too early this past March, a victim of ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Three close friends of Lee’s (in California, Texas, and Sweden) organized this incredible tribute — an outpouring from the hearts and minds of the musicians who knew and loved him. A “short” list of notable contributors includes Six Organs of Admittance, Wooden Wand, MV & EE, Plastic Crimewave, Charalambides, Marissa Nadler, Windy & Carl, Hush Arbors, The Azusa Plane, Kemialliset Ystävät, Volcano the Bear, Roy Montgomery, Pelt, and AXEMEN. From June through December, the compilation was set up as a benefit for the Texas chapter of the ALS Association, for which it collected $3100! It’s now available as a free download — a gift from the spirit of the remarkable soul that was Lee, to you.
ALSO GREAT in 2012:
CAN – Lost Tapes Box Set
GARY WAR – Jared’s Lot
AMPS FOR CHRIST – Circuits (’99 2LP reissue w/ 4 new tracks)
ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI – Mature Themes
GOAT – World Music
LANDING – Landing
THE NEW HIGHWAY HYMNAL – Whispers
PRINCE RAMA – Top Ten Hits of the End of the World
SPECTRE FOLK – The Ancient Storm
ULAAN MARKHOR (Steven R. Smith) – Ulaan Markhor
VINYL WILLIAMS – Lemniscate
WHITE MANNA – White Manna