2012, a non-apocalypse in review - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #142

Okay, another wretched year slithers out of the sphincter of time and it’s that time of year that most of the bars are open but most of the offices are shut so internet guttersnipes can indulge themselves and make a list of all the albums made by their mates that didn’t get the number one and huge accolades they obviously deserved, and nobody will notice and nobody will care and the world will continue blissfully unaware eating the same recycled wallpaper-paste tedium they always have convinced it is new, or somehow cleansing, or somehow doesn’t matter. I’m starting this well ahead of time but I’m always drinking in and absorbing albums from this year to try and map the most accurate landscape of the unmolested underground and that mission continues. The ongoing popularity this year of Psy’s perfectly ordinary Gangnam Style goes to show what I’ve been saying: lock the record-buying public in a coffin made of shit for long enough, any air that seeps is is going to seem like the best thing. Compared to the Jonas Brothers and all the other saccharine sweet mediocrity merchant white people guitar bore Psy does indeed seem good, just as to someone with the metal shaft of an arrow lodged in their brain so they perceive nothing but excruciating pain, the smell of a fart seems like sweet release. So fuck mediocre pop, screw your boredom because while on the sun-baked desert of the charts there were tiny shoots of hope, in the fusty grimy sin caves of the sub-basement and in the underground we were growing reefer to such an extent that the buds covered the walls and hung from the ceiling. Yes, things were going real good in the underground kiddies, and the super-dooper thing is you didn’t miss a thing. Just you follow the 2012 tag and you’ll get full-length ruminations on everything I’m about to mention in passing, links to free music in most cases, interviews and places where you can fight the good fight. Now I think things in the world have been going pretty well too. The world is a fairer place because of civil disobedience, we’re nearly all the way with same-sex marriage and, for one shining moment, I think we might have it. So slide any of our 2012 records, or any of my further picks on to your turntable, turn it up real loud, open up yer doors and share your booze and your drugs. Act as if you live in the early days of a better world.
Tommy Concrete with the Jackals, 14/12/2012
 

It was a year where the devil’s work was carried out admirably, with such a dearth of quality heads fighting the good fight from all corners of the globe and I can’t think of a year in recent memory when I have five or six albums of the year. I’ll just list ‘em all off with a few links to where you can purchase these good ‘uns (and do purchase them, these heads deserve your cash for once). Cracking debuts from Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell with Don’t Hear It… Fear It who bring the Groundhogs’ sound right up to date. Goat with World Music (and everything else) from the always-admirable Rocket Recordings. Jake Bugg with Jake Bugg who teaches us that pop music is still worth listening to. OM with Advaitic Songs finally nailed the beauty after six attempts and local cool-guy Homesick Aldo dropped Talkin’ Innocent Outlaw Blues which is just the most fun you’ll have this year. We’ve had just so much great stuff. So I’ll just ahead and talk about the album(s) of the year that we already have full-on workouts on. Utter lasting sonic solace was finally reached by OM in their Advaitic Songs LP, we said: “Om is still painting with a wide brush. The opening salvo of this odyssey across the Sinai sets the tone. Electric echoes like the megaphone call to prayer echo out before Al’s telegraph-wire bass chimes in with almost no bass on it; it’s really bass that could be a bongo, the strings ain’t strings, they’re skins. By the third minute you’ll be a total convert to the philosophy that rock and roll, while inappropriate for much of the straighter population of the world, is the only true way to true enlightenment and that the charge on that front is very much being led by these records going out time and again on every station.” It still blows my mind every time, especially the tongue bit… We also found essential sonic trumpeting coming from a little closer to home with the Admiral Sir Cloudesely Shovell debut album, we said: “After two listens I became convinced that this was not only the best album I had ever heard, but it was the best album anyone had ever heard. I walked the streets of Edinburgh looking at all the people going about their various concerns, none of them listening to Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell. I went into a shop and there were a coupla punky looking freaks behind the till and a few dreary bald people looking at things, I had to leave before buying anything because the greasy raucous racket in my ears was just so outside of everything I was seeing I started to feel nauseous. What the hell is wrong with these people?” You can’t be serious about rock and roll in 2012 and expect to get away without hearing that record. Get it down you. Next we devoured Goat’s debut, from the always-excellent Rocket Recordings, who definitely deserve more praise than they currently get. Looks like World Music will be their meal-ticket though because Goat have broken into the underground on a peyote fuelled rampage looking for more booze, we said: “Goat tap thoroughly, protractedly and convincingly into what I love most about music, universality; all the best music doesn’t need a degree to understand, its genius and appeal isn’t complex or wracked with meaning. It has a beat and is inherently catchy and danceable and full of life and vigour, so it is with World Music throughout. These guys are mining a vein of solid funk alllll the way through the centre of the earth, it’s thick, it’s characterful, it’s pungent, it’s visceral, it’s rock and roll in pure distilled form like Scotch spirit and just as able to get you moving!” and I stand by it all. Speaking of green shoots in the pop world, the greenest and biggest of the lot was Dylanophile Jake Bugg, we said: “at its frequent best, it sets the deck aflame with hyperenergetic folk rock wizardry drenched in sweaty infectious organic real thrills a-la Neil Young on a full-on England binge or Cadaverous Condition without the Cookie Monster.” And o’course, the local entry who put all these boys to shame with nuthin’ but a harmonica, drums, a whisky voicebox and a time machine, Fife’s very own Homesick Aldo, we said “Homesick Aldo presents something wholly new to anyone making music today. Music is a cruel and dirty business, not unlike politics; backstabbing, selling yourself to get a record out, selling everything you believe in for a shot at the big time… it’s such a vile, contemptible corrupting business and the second you sell a record you’re officially a part of the club for life; so the only true rock and roll revolutionaries are the ones who are so revolutionary they’ll never sell a record, they’ll never succeed.” And we stand by all of ‘em. OM completing their career. Admiral Sir Cloudesely Shovell just warming up. Non-careermovers Goat breaking into the mainstream with an afrobeat edge. Jake Bugg showing pop who’s who and Homesick Aldo showing Jake Bugg who’s who. These are all album of the year and you should go and get all of them.
 
Homesick Aldo.
Been a great year for up-and-comers too. We’ve seen South Africa cough out the Very Wicked and the Future Primitives, and right at the beginning of the year the Heavy Company were nice enough to bring us special guest Hillary Tribbett in what has to go down as very early best live EP of the year. Edinburgh’s own Acid Fascists kicked up a storm with Up Against the Wall Motherfucker, which was exactly as righteous as it sounds. And o’course the rise of Edinburgh double-doomin’ motherfuckers Atragon, who tear it up live and may very well be standing on the shoulders of old-hand Edinburgh doomy company like Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead and Of Spire and Throne (who also had a great EP out this year) to become the very pinnacle of Edinburgh doom. Who knows eh? I don’t. Ask Ewen, he’s got a smartass answer to everything else. Workin’ Man Noise Unit were enough to convert many a nonbeliever with just about the most MC5-via-High Rise chunder thunder this side of 1995 with their two tape EPs, which have been subject to much discussion about whether the US military has been in contact with the Workin’ Man Noise Unit boys about dropping high-power stereo system in bunker-buster ammunition from their big bad noisy (but very heavy metal) B52s because those tapes could blow the roof off even the most hostile house. Band o’ the year could well be Deap Vally, who would be scarier still if they weren’t so sexy and so totally in control. They’re the ones to watch in 2013 as they’ll bring their full-on femme rock to a town near you in support of someone far far worse (on tour with the Vaccines recently, Muse at the moment). Not enough praise can be heaped on Oren Ambarchi’s solo effort which will definitely be seeing repeated playthroughs in the early hours of 2013, when we’re all sleepy-drunk on the worse booze because we’ve partied away all the good stuff. Finally, for the ultimate relax, Greek band Tuber give us some of the best in their Smoked Up Notes. Savour all this and more!

Torche.
Okay, okay, I know that last paragraph was a copy-paste shit show like the end of a season of TV and they lash a clips show together when the ideas bucket is running low but fuck you buddy. You try maintaining a decent viewpoint while being pelted with thousands of tonnes of industry garbage and absorbing untold milligrams of Jesus-only-knows. We’ve had great live rituals performed for us by Sleep, the Kosmik Deed, OM, Dylan Carlson as Drcarlsonalbion, Gnod and locals Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead topped off a great year with some of the coolest (and loudest) tinnitus inducing sin-sounds of the year. So what does all this multi-platform goodness spell me babbies? You didn’t just come to me for a list did you, because lists are dull and I write about records all year so you didn’t come for those regurgitated opinions neither. Well, surveying the whole scene through smoky aviators and one of the month’s more notable hangovers as I sit in the bright sunlit uplands of the music industry in my ivory tower, tossing down opinions for you all to hungrily gnaw on, I gotta say, the view from up here is all good, dog. Things is only getting better. Sure things are shit, generally and musically. There’s still far too much of mediocrities winning awards while masterpieces rot unacknowledged in a drawer; but I can sense the tide is starting to go out, and all those cool enough and all the rock heavy enough is going to stay embedded in the same sand as always, ‘cept it’s gonna start making serious groove; and all the light and fluffy and pointless stuff is just going to get washed out on the tide, like it always does. Stay on the side of righteousness, kiddies, and you can’t go far wrong. Don’t stop exploring, pay those who are worthy and let those who aren’t drown in the turbulent seas. O’course I can’t let you go without some more in-depth, and I’ve been living with an album for nearly the whole year (came out in January) that I’ve been keeping to myself until now, and an old hand that’s just too cool to not do. We’ve got two albums that we think are the year, like, if you were to slice and dice it into two hours of unadulterated sin and deafening carpet-rumbling motherfuckery, these would certainly be they. Bad Liquor Pond’s Blue Smoke Orange Sky, and the re-release of Sleep’s Dopesmoker. There’ll be separate articles for them in due course, to pad out the quiet times of Jan/Feb before anything really starts escaping. We’ve got lots to look forward to. The Deap Vally album, Nails new record (maybe), Man’s Gin’s new record, possibly a new Cobalt record. It’s all fine. But remember, whether it’s 2012 or 1912. A year is just a number in a stupid and nonsensical calendar and y’ might as well do what makes you happy. Things only seem to be getting better though.

2012, more proof that the best way to blow off steam is to blow the lid off society. We appreciate you have a choice of shit-spouting internet arseholes and appreciate your continued business. Keep sending us records, keep reading our bullshit. We love you. Rawk on, don’t take the brown acid, love each other every day and free Pussy Riot!

Written under duress by the usual fuckers. See you on the other side of this nightmare.

“Throw rocks through windows, torch billboards, you aren’t committing vandalism, they are by covering up the natural landscape with concrete and steel”

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