Baltimore again proved to be a treasure trove of amazing art. A few of the albums I loved. I also had more that were included on my other lists, like the amazing Noisem or Black Sheep DZ…
Romantic States – Romantic States
Sweepstakes – Tongues Out
Holy Ghost Party – Bayou Music
Blacksage – Basement Vows
Expert Alterations – You Can’t Always Be Liked
Natural Velvet – She Is Me
Wildhoney – Sleep Through It
Thrushes – Exposing Seas
War on Women – War On Women
Dope Body – Kunk
Romantic States – Broken Clothes
Sweepstakes – Hands In The Air
Holy Ghost Party – Squiq
Blacksage – Casualty
Expert Alterations – Well Good For You
Natural Velvet – Perfect Roleplay
Wildhoney – Sleep Through It
Thrushes – Joan Of Arc
War on Women – Meathead
Dope Body – Goon Line
photo of wildhoney by me
2016 was a great year for all types of hip-hop. My ten favorite releases:
STS x RJD2 – STS x RJD2
Black Zheep DZ – Mirror, Mirror
Shark Tank – Don’t Fuck With Us
Sortahuman – SORTAHUMAN4LIFE
Death Grips – Jenny Death
JPEGMAFIA – communist slow jams
Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
BLVCK CEILING – Trap Magic
Young Thug – Slime Season 2
Junglepussy – Pregnant with Success
STS x RJD2 – Tennessee
Black Zheep DZ – The Other Side [Prod. Rvdical the Kid]
Shark Tank – Nighttime Men pt. 2
Sortahuman – EVERLASTING (PROD. BY BIG LOS)
Death Grips – Pss Pss
JPEGMAFIA – lemmy
Drake – Madonna
BLVCK CEILING – poor it Up
Young Thug – Big Racks
Junglepussy – Only Way
photo by me
My top 10 favorite electronic albums for 2015. The are in order of the mix I made with one track per release:
AFX – orphaned deejay selek 2006-2008
Luke Vibert – Bizarster
Leftfield – Alternative Light Source
Gurl Crush – Serenity Calling…
Venetian Snares – Thank You For Your Consideration
Force Publique – Bloom
Autre Ne Veut – Age of Transparency
SPC ECO – Dark Matter
Container – LP
GEMS – Kill the One You Love
Picture of my hats by me
My favorite heavy albums of 2015. In order of the mix I made of one track per release:
Noisem – Blossoming Decay
Genocide Pact – Forged Through Domination
Cult Leader – Lightless Walk
Corrections House – How to Carry a Whip
Kowloon Walled City – Grievences
Fight Amp – Constantly Off
Kylesa – Exhausting Fire
The Body and Thou – You, Whom I Have Always Hated
Locrian – Infinite Dissolution
Liturgy – the Ark Work
Noisem – Graining Enamel
Genocide Pact – Experiments In Nihilsm
Cult Leader – Sympathetic
Corrections House – Hopeless Moronic
Kowloon Walled City – Your Best Years
Fight Amp – Happy Joyful Life
Kylesa – Lost and Confused
The Body and Thou – Her Strongholds Unvanquishable
Locrian – Arc of Extinction
Liturgy – Kel Valhaal
photo of Kowloon Walled City at Metro Gallery by me
December – snow, playoffs, fireplaces, Christmas… And end of the year lists. This is the first of three that I will be posting. Each will be 10 releases, LPs or EPs, grouped together in a particular way. The first list is my favorite (not best of, I hate that term) releases from Baltimore artists in 2014. In addition, I made a mix that can be heard on Mixcloud, featuring one track from each release:
WIldhoney – Seventeen Forever: First up is the newest EP from shoegazers Wildhoney. Three slabs of walls of sound, mastered by Jake Reid of Screen Vinyl Image fame.
Wye Oak – Shriek: Wye Oak changed it all up. No longer did guitars rule this duo. The old formula was vocals plus guitar plus drummer who is also playing bass parts as he drums. The new formula was singer playing bass with a drummer who is also playing lead parts on synth. This new synthpop sound really works for them, and I spent an excellent evening at the 930 Club this year watching them do their new thing.
Mt Royal – Mt Royal EP: Anything Katrina Ford is on is excellent. Mt Royal’s debut is not any different. I had patiently waited for this for a long time after seeing them perform a few times.
Future Islands – Singles: This could almost be called the year of Future Islands. They went from local darlings to one of the biggest indie bands in the planet. Their Letterman appearance shouldn’t need to be mentioned – their music does the speaking for them. This release followed their trajectory of pushing their envelopes with lyrical composition, vocal styling, soundscapes and other synth goodness, and their ever steady bass anchoring it all together.
Silk Rhodes – Silk Rhodes: This release is pure funk. Disco, funk, soul… It all exists in the same realm for these two Baltimore artists. This is extremely danceable. I have not had the pleasure of catching them live (versus every other artist on this list, at least once, if not several times) but hope to remedy that in 2015.
Wing Dam – Shifter: Wing Dam followed up their last classic with another classic. I had already heard a lot of these songs live, and instantly dug it. I was fortunate to be allowed to sit in the producer booth while they recorded a couple of these, and for that I am eternally grateful. It was quite the experience and it was a lot of fun to hear the finished product, and see some of the recording process first-hand. They are one of the funnest bands to catch live, and some of the nicest people around.
Hive Bent – dyatlov: Two piece that crush. Heavy heavy heavy. I don’t have much more to say other than I love Hive Bent. Go grab their newest EP, you wont regret it.
Multicult – Variable Impulse: Multicult are another great band on record and live. The on one hand look to Shellac for inspiration and on the other surpass them in terms of energy.
Roomrunner – Seperate: Roomrunner’s newest EP is a bit of a departure for them sonically. This time around they recorded with J Robbins, who helped the record catch a slightly different groove than their previous (and excellent) releases. They still look towards the 1990s, but this time you can feel a variety of influences creep in.
Horse Lords – Hidden Cities: One of the most intriguing bands to see live. Their rythum cant be beat. I have been mesmerized in a trance every time I have seen them. This record does a good job of captuing their vibe, but if you haven’t seen them live, do yourself a favor and check them out.
Beyond Inversion was released by label Accidental Guest Records (a local to my area, label ran by Sean Grey, who also partly runs Fan Death Records, another favorite label of mine) late last year, and features 23 tracks from across the spectrum of punk and post-punk music. There is seriously too much goodness on this compilation (I can’t imagine me liking any other comp as much, for at least the next year) to go through it all. First off, it is a benefit release. Bandcamp lists this for info on the benefit:
all proceeds will benefit Rachael’s Women’s Center in DC, a nonprofit agency which provides resources and opportunities for homeless and formerly homeless women. A silkscreened poster accompanying this release will also be available for purchase, with proceeds also going to Rachael’s Women’s Center.
About Rachael’s Women’s Center:
To provide homeless and formerly homeless women with opportunities to develop their independence, sense of self and hope by:
Providing safety, shelter, food, showers and laundry in a nurturing, homelike environment;
Helping women to reach their potential through intensive case management and programs that empower them to take control of their lives and advocate for themselves.
Rachael’s also reaches out to individuals living on the streets, enabling and encouraging them to access services and benefits available to people who are homeless.
Rachael’s Women’s Center is a place of hospitality and hope for women who are homeless. When given the chance to heal in a caring and challenging environment, women can be enabled and empowered to bring forth their forgotten and lost potential. The Center asserts the right of all women to be treated with respect and dignity. We believe that in a non-judgemental and supportive environment that all women can find meaning, self-respect, hope, personal power, and love regardless of race or life experiences. In this environment we maintain that all women can evolve into more independent, self-reliant individuals who can more effectively contribute to the communities in which they live.
Rachael’s Women’s Center
1222 11th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
Next up, the music. Here are some of my highlights from the record. Perfect Pussy offer up another slice of noise punk goodness (much needed after such a short EP). Bret Lanahan (drummer of Roomrunner) proves he is equally as bad ass on both sides of the drum kit, with an excellent solo blast. Hive Bent lends Tomgirl, a personal favorite of mine from their last release. Clean Girls also gave a track I already had, but a good one. Roomrunner have a demo of the mythical ESPN Zone. Scott Russell’s A Guide to Rational Living track Careful kills it. Technicolor Teeth makes shoegaze but not really. Stillsuit, love the name (huge Dune nerd), and this song is bananas; free-jazz noise freakout punk? Jail Solidarity brings the heaviness. Sadie Dupuis (of Speedy Ortiz fame) shows that she can rock it 90s style solo or with her band. Ok, enough ruminations on these tracks. My descriptions definitely don’t do these songs justice. GO LISTEN/SUPPORT THIS ALREADY!
I am going to keep the descriptions short and sweet. These 20 releases made up my other favorites that aren’t from Baltimore, or dark/electronic. A very East Coast heavy list, with Massachusetts having a strong showing. In no particular order, the rest of my favorites (and a mix).
1. ovlov – am: catchy noise rock is what these brothers deal in
2. Exit Calm – The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be: second album of soaring British shoegaze; vocals are up front unlike a lot of their peers
3. The Courtneys – The Courtneys: probably what I sang along to the most this year in traffic was from these Canadian Keanu Reeves enthusiasts
4. BAMBARA – DREAMVIOLENCE: noise powered pedal theatrics from this NYC band; their day time set at Hopscotch this year was easily among my top five favorite for the year
5. The Polyphonic Spree – Yes, It’s True: the only kickstarter project I supported this year; I have drank their Kool Aid for over a decade, and this one didn’t let me down
6. Sebadoh – Defend Yourself: one of my favorite bands of the 90s return to form; I am glad I was able to see them on tour for this
7. Locrian – Return To Annihilation: I was lucky enough to see them on their short tour for this album; their set’s mix of ambient metal synths and guitars let me wanting more
8. Wolf Eyes – No Answer: Lower Floors: I always thought I wouldn’t like them because they would be too harsh; this release is just the right combo of noise and songs (also another killer band I was able to catch this year)
9. Weekend – Jinx: beat driven shoegaze release
10. Veronica Falls – Waiting For Something To Happen: pop from London; another sing along fest
11. The Stargazer Lilies – We Are The Dreamers: ethereal shoegaze release from Soundpool alums
12. Placebo – Loud Like Love: another strong release from a mainstay in my favorite list; I am not sure if this will convert anyone, but is a treat for fans of the band
13. Chelsea Light Moving – Chelsea Light Moving: I like all the post-Sonic Youth bands but only wanted to include one; CLM made the cut since I listened to this the most, and also really enjoyed the tracks when I experienced them live
14. Kal Marks – LIFE IS MURDER: Guitar heavy Boston band featuring a vocalist with one of the most unique voices I have heard in rock music in a long time
15. Paint Branch – I Wanna Live: the only DC based band on this list; which is sad, I spend a lot of time every week in that city; smart, vocal driven pop from ashes of Q and not U
16. Krill – Lucky Leaves: another reason Massachusetts kicks ass with its music scene
17. Palehound – Bent Nail: another release that has a 90s vibe to it; nice mix of acoustic and electric parts and also singing about a range of topics including pet carrots
18. DJ Dog Dick – The Life Stains: NYC based noise artist releases a instant noise pop classic; beats, singing, basslines, and melodies abound
19. PERFECT PUSSY – I have lost all desire for feeling: probably the noisiest of all of these releases, shoegaze ones included; too short at four songs and they leave you wanting more
20. Potty Mouth – Hell Bent: this band of punk rockers put on one of the funnest sets that I attended this year at an all ages event at an alternative worship place; much ass was kicked
the image of Locrian synth player/singer Terence Hannum at the Metro Gallery in Baltimore was taken by me