Now that we’ve reached the end of another year, I see retrospectives and best ofs of all shapes and forms popping up all over the Internet, nay, on this very blog even. For the musically astute and up to date, these lists aren’t really telling you anything you don’t already know. You’ll maybe agree with them, perhaps you’ll cry in outrage that your favourite album of the year didn’t make Rolling Stone’s top 50 list, but either way if you’ve had your ears open you’ve probably at least heard of most of this year’s celebrated albums. Not me, folks! I pride myself in my modern day musical ignorance. My favourite artists are all old, some dead, some retired, today’s music scene generally doesn’t interest me that much and I’m happy to discover things at my own pace without worrying about the flurry of new releases, buying magazines, reading rave reviews and going out and purchasing CD’s at full price and so on. If I discover something great from this year I’ll embrace it, but I won’t go looking for it. Anyhow, this little prelude is a disclaimer: whereas some people look at “best of year” list and see what made it out of their favourites, I use it as a resource to find some of the year’s best albums. Things are easier in retrospect. So it’s possible that in the first few months of 2013 I can be treating readers to some of the best albums of last year, rather than the best of the upcoming year. That I definitely entrust to Steven, being light years ahead of the game than myself. Anyhow, one of this 2012’s best albums as far as I’m concerned I have for you here. Despite that rant it’s not one that made a lot of lists (I have my resources) and it has a very interesting story behind it.
Forgive me father, for I have sinned. I have not obeyed the commandment of Thirteenth Floor Elevators Roller Coaster to “open upcha mind and let everything flow through it” and recently I have been resolutely hunkered in the bunker having nothing but heavy-ass trips, just check out my end-of-year list if you don’t believe me. Well I felt it was important to maintain my cultural cache and expand my horizons; and what better time to do that than the messed-up three-month shit show of xmass. That wonderous Pago-Christo-Capitalist festival where we worship around the spectacle of the evergreen pine tree, representing the rejuvenation that occurs on the 21st of December, at the solstice. We also celebrate the non-birth of the not-ever-born messiah of Judeo-Christian text, as well as devoting massive amounts of money, time and worry to gargantuan soulless corporations who’d be selling fully automatic rifles and heroin to pre-schoolers if they thought there’d be a profit in it. Merry fucking Christmas, every one. Another fabulous xmass tradition is being given shit you don’t want. You know? You’re into music, so somebody gives you a CD by a band or artist totally outside your demographic and taste and most of the time it’s utter shite and you have to listen to it a few times to not seem ungrateful, but occasionally it’s a little chunk of that magic moment when you buy a CD by a band you’ve never heard of or catch a slice of radio that doesn’t cater to your demographic. Well, Adam, our other glorious and well-informed contributor sent me over a brace of five albums with nothing comfortable or familiar in sight. Tally ho! Life begins at the end of the comfort zone!
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|
Today, as a little Christmas bonus, Steve and I have given you dear readers a little treat, and ourselves a bit of a headache, no doubt. One day as Steve was traversing the streets, he was caught in a torrential downpour of inspiration, and an idea so brilliant drenched his hair and soaked through his clothes. “We on this blog always write about music we like,” thought he, “so why not, for once, write about music that the other person likes?” Genius, some would say. Others, insanity. Regardless, I was game. We exchanged a few albums, had a listen to what floats the other’s boat, (Which is rarely, if ever, the same sort of thing) and now the result of this crazy exchange of ideas lies before you in all its Helvetica glory. I’m writing about The Blondi’s Salvation, which is both a privilege and a frustration because I normally like to try and read up a bit about a band before writing about them for context and whatnot, try and find out their influences and so forth. The Blondi’s Salvation appear to be pretty obscure (and by that I mean they don’t have their own Wikipedia page) and so pretty much the only information I can get on them is that they’re from Nantes, France. I’m pretty sure this was a deliberate move by Steve; merry Christmas too, ye git. Anyhow, upon reflection and listening, I’ve concluded that it doesn’t actually matter too much that I know nothing about them. I know the important thing, and that’s that this album rocks.
Kiss me dudely, and brace yourself, listmageddon approaches! Songs of 2012 - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #141
Ye gods, 2012 was one hell of a year! Good thing too, if we’d dribbled into the cosmic abyss rather than going out on a gee-tar stroke strum thunderclap, we all should be ashamed. Thankfully this was a helluva time and place in the world to be alive and we got a whole selection of short-form loveliness to indulge ourselves, so firsty I’mma drop you the best songs of 2012, ‘cause sometimes you don’t wanna hear a whole record, and this is to reward some releases with a single prime cut (sometimes worthy of buying the whole sub-standard album) so juicy you really need to avail yersel of the whole record just to enjoy it. There’s a lot here that won’t be making it into any other list ‘cause they really are a single cut marred in an ocean of sameyness or boredom but worth rewarding because, if only for a single moment, each of these suckers nailed the beauty.
|Tommy Concrete as part of the Jackals, Bannermans, 2012. I like this photo.|
|Craig Relf of Druganaut - shake ya bones|
“Well come on down here son, that’s right, down the stairs, they might look all old and rickety but they’re as strong as yer da’s bones, come on down here mind your head as you enter the sub basement. Don’t worry, we ain’t in no shape to hurt you, we just dropped a load o’ paralysing agents and me legs are already totally absent. I expect within a coupla minutes I’ll have totally zapped out on a wave of paralysed frozen psychedelia. Don’t worry, them stairs are sticky with whisky from hundreds of hours of debauchery and the floor is likewise. Come and sit next to me. You have nothing to fear, my arms are already going limp. Don’t fret at all, this all might seem like some twisted hallucination, and it might well be, you aren’t here to gawp at me and my vast flab rolls, naw son, you’re here to watch the real beasts perform...”
Wanted: Outlaws to begin immediately - Outrun the cops for the second time with the Heavy Eyes - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #138
The beast is loose again. Down the bland highway of samey predictability, stacked gridlock of all the latest polished boring useless spiritual faux-rock come the modern highwaymen and outlaws; blasting down the white of the centre line with wind-burned eyeballs and reckless disregard, astride a growling iron horse spitting fire from chromed nostrils and bucking with impatient rage, longing for the open road. It’s the Heavy Eyes! The thousand carat headline act, smashing wingmirrors, scraping wings and stealing watches off idle wrists of gridlocked boredom at ninety miles an hour; not caring about green or red signals; running fast and heavy looking for an unpolluted section of road so they can set the bull loose. Stopping at any old place provoking fear and curtain twitching as they stagger and fight with jagged broken whisky bottles. Not caring, not caring about anything at all. Leaving broken windows, broken eardrums and broken hearts in every staggered desert town. Running free on the blistered blacktop because all the people with the power to bring the hammer down would never believe what just happened, and who is speeding out of town. It’s the hottest name in underground blues music; and their new album winged itself to us through the intergalactic airwaves and it’s been on permanent spin ever since.
Hallelujah, and explode: Venture into the anachronistic hinterland with Man’s Gin and the Fnords - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #137
Jon Lord is dead, Maynard is becoming a vintner. Whether you’re respectable or a full on freak, in the close of this foul year of our lord, rock and roll is the devil. As the creation of a true righteous list of the supreme enduring meditations of the year commences, taking hours of dedication and careful consideration and research, as well as a degree of nostalgic posthumous voyaging back into the half-life trips of the previously trodden ground of the rock and roll sub-basement. It’s vital to check yourself against a fair selection of the last few blasted and fearful and wrong years for previous winners and a cut or two of overlooked barbaric genius. To that end I bring, from 2010, Man’s Gin’s debut album Smiling Dogs, a true blues slowgrind non-metallic black metal release from half of true black metallers Cobalt which tees up the new Man’s Gin album due soon; I also bring to you from much closer to home the 2011 debut from the Fnords, soon to be re-released on proper vintage artefact vinyl at Edinbuggers own Elvis Shakespeare records and good stuff wholesaler. Please do come on in.
I have nothing but respect for EL-P in the world of hip hop, being a super producer/rapper extraordinaire and all that. Seriously, I do think he is a supremely talented musician and his hip hop productions are light years ahead of many of his contemporaries. Note well, “hip hop productions.” As a rapper/producer I wouldn’t really have expected him to branch into anything else: maybe some soundtrack work a la Wu-Tang’s RZA, but that’s about it. Certainly the last thing I’d ever have expected from him is an album of orchestral jazz, but there we are, the man continues to surprise. I did raise my eyebrow at the thought of such an idea, and as it turns out, with good reason: that’s not to say High Water is a complete failure, it’s not a failure or even remotely bad at all. It’s just… curious. An interesting piece of work for sure, but let’s just say they won’t be inducting El-P into the Down Beat hall of fame anytime soon.