Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 was a year that had music

Another year has come and gone, and all sorts of crazy shit happened. For me personally, I took on the hardest year of schooling I've ever had and managed to come away without any Cs, I studied gibbons at the zoo and salamander DNA in a lab, I was elected secretary of my college's biology club, and I joined, recorded with, and was booted from Act of Impalement because I was too busy with school.

More to the point though, 2013 was an incredible year for extreme music both locally and globally. Without further ado, here are the lists from local artists, as well as my own at the bottom.

Blake of Brother Ares and Buddhist Pill:
Brokeback- Brokeback and the Black Rock: Doug Mccombs of Tortoise brings his long standing project back as a tight lean 'rock' band, providing tasteful desert soundtrack vibes.

Disappears-Era/Kone: Another year, another Disappears album or two.  This is the first album/single with new drummer Noah Leger who replaced Steve Shelley.  This change results in a smooth left turn from the more almost pop leanings of Pre-Language into the heavy PiL influenced dub drone found initially on Kone and then expanded on Era.

True Widow-Circumambulation: True Widow's new album provides the heavy intent of later period earth (along with a nice over driven twang guitar tone) coupled with the slow haze of distant reverberated vocals primarily by gtrist Dan "D.H." Phillips, but also by bassist Nicole Estill. The effect is particularly powerful when the pair harmonize, creating this comforting resigned sigh that melds with the mellow fuzz music perfectly.

Il Sogno Del Marinaio-La Busta Gialla: Mike Watt (Minutemen/fIREHOSE) travels to Italy to tour/make a recording w/ 2 musicians he has never recorded/performed together with and knocked out an incredible album  Feature a potent mix of avant-garde textures, almost cinematic arrangements and classic Watt style basslines.

Queens of the Stone Age-...Like Clockwork: Josh Homme returns after a near death experience with a decidedly slower and sadder sound.  A larger reliance on synths, piano and homme's bruised falsetto provides a somber landscape, but this allows room for the one thing that tends to be missing from the bands prior albums: genuine emotion.

Savages-Silence Yourself: English band Savages debut presents a decidedly influenced by the past (80s post punk in particular) but with a borderline visceral passion that most modern music is sorely lacking.

Speedy Ortiz-Major Arcana: Speedy Ortiz, in addition to taking their name from one of my favorite comic books Love & Rockets, take their sound from some of my favourite records by artists like Chavez, Jawbox and Helium.  It's a decidedly college rock 90s affair going on here presented with a youthful energy that makes their material feel fresh rather than a nostalgia trip.

Justin Timberlake- 20/20 Experience volume 1: Poor reviews have kept me away from indulging Vol 2, but the first half of this series is an incredible mix of electro minimalist beats, soul influence, falsetto vocals and this great decision to have nearly every song devolve at the back end into a remix of itself.

Death Grips-Government Plates: Death Grips slip in at the last second with another self-released album featuring the messed up synths, blasts of noise and aggressive raps.

Wooden Wand- Blood Oaths of the New Blues/WWIV -James Toth (full disclosure, i consider mr toth a good friend) returns with one of his finest releases in the form of Blood Oaths. This record features vaguely psychedelic textures and overtones, along w/ the bizarre but ultimately empowering move of having no snare on the album and some of his most affecting melodies and lyrics. WWIV is his attempt to live out (and succeed) his Crazy Horse fantasies w/ spiraling guitar lines and heavy stomps.

Joseph Allred/Graceless/Hellbender-Honey Voiced/Mandorla Vally/Vicera/Monumental Failure/Second Sight: (Full disclosure again-Joseph Allred is a close friend in addition to being the other half of Buddhist Pill) Joseph Allred spent the year releasing music of all types- the often joyful, always heartfelt folk influenced releases under his solo name, the bleak drone atmospheres as Graceless (aided by Matt Johnson) and the powerful heady rock of Hellbender (RIP). Each release showcases the innovative guitar and arrangement ideas he's capable of coupled with his ability to adapt to the players involved while still exuding his own spiritual influence.

Body/Head- Coming Apart: Kim Gordon and Bill Nace team up for loose sprawling improvised album consisting solely of their individual guitars and Gordon's voice.

Chelsea Light Moving- S/T: Thurston Moore teams up with an excellent crew of musicians (John Maloney of Sunburned Hand of the Man, Keith Wood of Hush Arbors and Samara Lubelski) to provide a raucous mix of turborat abetted punk fury, blasts of pure noise and tender odes to the 60s beat writers.

Across Tundras- Electric Relics: Tanner Olson aided by Casey Perry and Mikey Allred (Hellbender) releases what may be his best and most thoroughly enjoyable album yet.  Combining sly winks to classic rock, Tundras typical Crazy Horse stomp and lovely psychedelic overtones for an album that is both heavy and heartfelt.

Ensemble Pearl- Stephen O'malley of Sunn O))) teams up w/ Michio Kurihara of Ghost, Boris drummer Atsuo, and William Herzog from Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter for an epic sparse tour through Hex era Earth coupled w/ that unique for of psychedelia found only in Japan

Honorable mentions-

Locrian- Return to Annihilation
Kanye West- Yeezus
Dillinger Escape Plan- One of us is the Killer
Beast in the Field- The Sacred Above The Sacred Below
Chelsea Wolfe- Pain is Beauty
Obits- Bed & Bugs
Joanna Gruesome- Weird Sister
Palms- S/t
Lee Ranaldo and the Dust- Last Night on Earth
Windhand- Soma
Tim Hecker- Virgins
Inter Arma- Sky Burial
Los Melvins- Tres Cabrones
Endless Boogie- Long Island

The Body-Master We Perish
Shroudeater- Dead Ends

Come- Eleven:Eleven
Breeders- Last Splash
Rilo Kiley- Rkives

EDIT: Derp, forgot the list from Josh from Billy Castro until just now.
Black Sabbath - 13
13 is a comeback album in the truest sense of the phrase.  I usually hate using the term "return to form," but Black Sabbath have created, well, a Black Sabbath album.  This marks the first time since 1978 that Ozzy Osbourne has sung on a full-length studio album with the band.  Geezer Butler also makes his return, making this his first full-length studio Sabbath album since 1994.  What makes this release even more remarkable is that guitarist Tony Iommi was able to play on it despite undergoing cancer treatment.  Slow, bluesy Iommi doom riffs and thick, commanding Butler basslines dominate this release, while Ozzy does just what he should: sing within his range about doom, gloom, death, and destruction.  Guest session drummer Brad Wilk (of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave) is a worthy replacement for original lineup member Bill Ward, who is absent due to contractual issues.  Wilk is unable to capture some of that Bill Ward magic, as he seems a bit too tight at times and is unable to replicate Ward's ability to play just tight enough to keep it together but just loose enough to leave room for weird (in the best sense of the term) drum fills.  Even so, his playing on this album is just what the band needed.  Lead single "God is Dead" is a classic Black Sabbath song capturing the often present Sabbath conflict between light and darkness, faith and disbelief, hatred and love.  The album does have a few filler tracks, but the majority of these tunes are worthy of the Ozzy-led Black Sabbath catalogue.  "End of the Beginning" reminds one of the heavy, slow, ominous main riff from "Black Sabbath," while "Zeitgeist" is a deserving follow-up to "Planet Caravan."  Even the bonus tracks are worth a listen, especially for Sabbath completists.  Where many modern albums released by bands from the 60's and 70's are embarrassing attempts to reaffirm and replicate past succeses, 13 is an album that an old acid rock fan can enjoy just as much as a young fan of modern doom/sludge.  It's a must-listen for any fan of heavy music in general, but especially those who truly respect Black Sabbath's seat atop the music world as the grandfathers of heavy metal.

Deafheaven - Sunbather
Call them what you will: black metal, post-rock, ambient metal, shoegaze, post-metal.  Whatever they are, Deafheaven are really, really good.  With Sunbather, the band's second full-length studio release, they've created their first (and hopefull not last) masterpiece.  It flows better and hits harder than its predecessor, Roads to Judah, and gives modern, American black metal an album it can be proud of.  The song-writing duo of founding members George Clarke (vocals) and Kerry McCoy (guitars) are deserving of the high praise this album has received from virtually every music writer who has reviewed it.  Mixing elements of several genres can often feel forced, as if a band is attempting to piece together two (or more) opposing pieces of a musical puzzle.  With Sunbather, the heavy and the soft, the quiet and the loud, the blazzingly fast and the beautifully quiet meld together to form a near-perfect blend of astoundingly emotional modern black metal.  Where contemporaries Liturgy delve more into the avant-garde and, depending on one's opinion, the pretentious, Sunbather feels genuine and lacks the hipsterisms many music listeners dislike about modern, underground metal that is often enjoyed by those who predominantly listen to various forms of indie rock.  The album as a whole is spectacular, but if one must choose a highlight, it has to be "Vertigo" the album's longest track at 14 minutes, 37 seconds.  This track best exemplifies the above-mentioned mastery of melding genres and musical elements, giving Sunbather it's most powerful, chillingly beautiful composition.  If Deafheaven continues to create music of this caliber, it is safe to say that they will go down as one of modern metal's preeminent acts.

Ghost - Infestissumam
With the release of their second full-length (and first for a major label), Ghost have created perhaps the most fun album of the year.  Ghost take their tongue-in-cheek, Satanic approach seriously, and if you're in on the joke (or maybe even if you aren't), they're one of the most entertaining and original bands around right now.  Since their first album ended with the birth of the Antichrist, the band have chosen for this one to continue with his life and rule of Earth.  It can be said that their first release pounded harder, cut deeper, and was perhaps a bit more riff-oriented.  The difference with this release is the focus on variety, including synths that are often more prone to lead than accompany and fantastic use of choir vocals.  Ghost have also written their most complete and catchy tune to date in "Year Zero," a song signaling the Antichrist's rise to power over all nations.  Ridiculous, right?  That's what makes it so much fun.  Also of note is that Papa Emeritus II is listed as the band's new vocalist but sounds just like the first Papa Emeritus.  Reminds me of the Landfill situation on Beerfest (yes, a strange reference to make on a review of a metal album, but similar nevertheless).  Basically, this is a fun one to recommend to anyone who enjoys irony, heavy music that isn't necessarily heavy, and music that doesn't take itself too seriously.

Casey Perry (Across Tundras)
15 records of 2013

1. Hellbender - Second Sight
2. Mammatus - Heady Mental
3. Inter Arma - Sky Burial
4. Oranssi Pazuzu - Valonielu
5. Neurosis - Honor Found in Decay  
6. Joseph Allred - Mandorla Valley                                                      
7. Big Star - Nothing Can Hurt Me (soundtrack)
8. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats - Mind Control
9. Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Psychedelic Pill
10. Big Business - Battlefeilds Forever
11. Wooden Wand & The World War IV
12. Sandrider - Godhead
13. Pinkish Black - Razed to the Ground
14. Nirvana - In Utero 2013 Albini Mix
15. Mazzy Star - Seasons of Your Day

Bob Brinkman (Bridesmaid)
Nashville Biscuit House rules, everything else in the world is terrible.  Some one tried to trade a pistol for our band trailer in the parking lot of the 'Walmart Neighborhood Market' up the street from there.  Have a happy 2014 everyone!

Jeff Hyde (Lark's Tongue)

1. Mark Kozelek and Jimmy Lavalle: Perils From the Sea
2. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Push the Sky Away
3. True Widow: Circumambulation
4. Windhand: Soma
5. Tindersticks: Across Six Leap Years
6. The Limiñanas: Costa Blanca
7. Brokeback: Brokeback and the Black Rock
8. The Icarus Line: Slave Vows
9. Deafheaven: Sunbather
10. Dead Meadow: Warble Womb
EP: Moin ST   
Reissue: Robert Wyatt: ‘68

Tanner Olson (Across Tundras)
Mazzy Star "Seasons Of Your Day"
Justin Timberlake "The 20/20 Experience - The Complete Experience"
Hellbender "Second Sight"
Joseph Allred "Viscera" & "Honeyvoiced"
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats "Mind Control"
Cass McCombs "Big Wheel and Others"
Wooden Wand "Blood Oaths of the New Blues" & "Wooden Wand & the World War IV"
Cian Nugent and the Cosmos "Born With the Caul"
SubRosa "More Constant Than the Gods"
My Bloody Valentine "m b v"
Daniel Bachman "Jesus I'm a Sinner"
Kurt Vile "Wakin On A Pretty Daze"
12 South Farmers Market - Nashville, TN
Tealixir "Dr Marigold" Kombucha
Noble Springs Dairy "Pimento Chevre"
Bagel Face Bakery "Everything Bagel"
Hiking with Sadie & Odin @ Beaman Park - Nashville, TN
Rolling a tire down a hill with David, Annabelle, Evelynn - Plattsmouth, NE
Across Tundras & Hellbender @ Black Butte Center For Railroad Culture - Weed, CA
Recording Brother Ares "Amplifier As God" @ Ramble Hill Farm - Goodlettsville, TN
Recording Across Tundras "Electric Relics" @ Ramble Hill Farm - Goodlettsville, TN
4th of July party w/ Bitter Resolve, Across Tundras, Holy Mountaintop Removers, Graceless, Joseph Allred @ Ramble Hill Farm - Goodlettsville, TN
Graveyard live @ Exit/In - Nashville, TN
Grails live @ The End - Nashville, TN

Forest of Tygers:
Botanist - IV: Mandragora
Loss Of Self - Twelve Minutes
Yellow Eyes - Hammer Of Night
Castevet - Obsidian
Enabler (MKE) - Flies
Corrections House - Last City Zero
Oathbreaker - Eros Anteros
Altar Of Plagues - Teethed Glory & Injury
The Body - Christs, Redeemers
Baptists - Bushcraft
All Pigs Must Die - Nothing Violates This Nature
Cloudkicker - Subsume
Death Grips -  Government Plates
Occultist - Death Sigils
Woe - Withdrawl
Stomach Earth - Stomach Earth
Vhol - Vhol
Ulcerate - Vermis
Zozobra - Savage Masters
Nails - Abandon All Life

Top 5 restaurants on the West side:
Kien Giang
NY Pie
Angel Restaurant
M.L. Rose (beer only)
Bobby's Dairy Dip

Top live Nashville acts:
Tijuana Goat Ride
Sky Burial
Choking on Ash
War Bong
Act of Impalement
Thelma and the Sleaze

the coolest dudes ever, Black Table:
1. Jardin de la Croix- 187 steps across the universe 
2. Vattnet Viskar - Sky Swallower 
3. Astronoid - Stargazer 
4. So Hideous - Last poem/ First light 
5. Distances - Ages 
6. Meek is Murder - Everything is awesome, Nothing matters 
7. East of the Wall - Redaction Artifacts 
8. The Ocean - Pelagial 
9. Dillinger Escape Plan - One of us is the Killer 
10. Russian Circles - Memorial

Connor (Pissbath, Vacant Future)
Kirai - 7"
Proxy - Police Car 7"
Clown - 2nd LP
Rotten UK - ticket To Hell 7"
Kremlin - drunk in the gulag LP
Asile - 12"

Switchblade demo
horrific disturbing demo
vacant future demo
Pissbath demo 2 and 3

Trey (Pissbath, Vacant Future, Haldol, a ton more)
Tres hombres by zz. Fuck every other record by anyone

Melissa (Pissbath)

 Mikey Owyn (Fragments of God)
Best album of 2013: mbv. Best local album of 2013: Fragments of God.
Zack (Act of Impalement, War Bong)
Top Shows:
1. Gasmask Terror 
2. Noisem 
3. Nunhex 
4. Windhand 
5. Primitive Man

Ethan (Act of Impalement, War Bong)
Top Shows:
1. Nunhex 
2. Weedeater 
3. Noisem 
4. Terveet Kadet 
5. Danzig

In keeping with last year's list, I've decided to just post a list of fantastic records I've heard this year, with a runner up and champion. Keep in mind that just because an album isn't on the list doesn't necessarily mean I dislike it; sometimes it just means I didn't ever get a chance to give it a full listen, like with this year's Cult of Luna album.

In any case, this year, I dug the following:

Pray for Teeth -From The Dry Edge Of The Shore
Windhand - Soma
Windhand/Cough split - Reflection o the Negative
KEN Mode - Entrench
Gorguts - Colored Sands
Mamiffer with Circle - Enharmonic Intervals
Vacant Future - Demo
Lumbar - The First and Last Days of Unwelcome 
True Widow - Circumambulation 
In Fidelity - Demo
Primitive Man - Scorn
Alraune - Demo
Hellbender - Second Sight
Across Tundras - Elecric Relics
Panopticon/Vestiges split
Conan/Bongripper split
Van Hägar/Profane Command split
Low to the Earth/Choking on Ash split
Noothgrush/Coffins split (holy shit so many good splits this year)
Paysage D'Hiver - Das Tor
Vuyvr - Eiskalt
Deafheaven - Sunbather
Shroud Eater - Dead Ends EP
Fell Voices - Regnum Saturni
Light Bearer - Silver Tongue
Inter Arma - Sky Burial
The Body - Master, We Perish EP
The Body - Christs, Redeemers
Batillus - Concrete Sustain
██████ - Demo
Oranssi Pazuzu - Valonielu
Cove - Pig God EP


Locrian - Return to Annihilation
For a long time, I scratched my head about this band. They were drone doom metal to be sure, but felt more suffocating than crushing like many other drone doom bands. With this release however, I was excited to find that Locrian had branched out into very new and almost upbeat territories. The first track, "Eternal Return" blossoms with synths you could almost dance to, but the screams let you know that there's still a metal edge. The album itself works best as a whole, with a near perfect pace and balance between relaxed and intense moments. The album ends with an incredibly powerful second half, complete with a 15-minute closer track that lulls you into thinking it's over, until suddenly... I won't spoil it. Listen to it yourself if you haven't already.



What really sets both this album and the runner up from the rest of the releases this year is this: to me, both albums demonstrated what you could do with metal, but also stretch it to its limits. Locrian's is almost so pretty you could call it post-gaze or shoe-rock or something. With this Kayo Dot release though, it brought back some of the metal their last few releases had lacked, and it really brings strength to this album. But oh lawd, the metal is just the beginning on this 3 LP, 100 minute+ album. We got choirs, we got saxophone, we got flute, we got some sort of marimba, and probably more I don't even know, and clean vocals and high and low vocals... This thing spans so many genres and so much of the beautiful Toby Driver's career, even harkening back to his days in Maudlin of the Well.(!) But the amazing thing really is how well it all flows together; the composition-work is incredible. I think it might even be a concept album or at least thematically related? 

When my friend Brandon who transcribes guitar solos on youtube for fun/school and I got to see Kayo Dot perform at the End, we both agreed that every single member of the band was a goddamn genius. Decide for yourself with the pitiful amount of songs they have streaming on their bandcamp, but for me, Hubardo is the hands-down Album of the year.

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