Monday, January 3, 2011

Year End List, Pop Dr(((O)))nes: Episode 77

I definitely had to restrain myself a bit when making this year's list, so I ranked it by most (approximately) plays at home, work and on the radio show. Plenty of releases of 2010 in the mail or just being digested didn't get a mention here, so this list could never be final. Not much of a trend to be found here, other than half of the list being debut albums.

I hope I was able to open up a few ears over 2010 with the Pop Drones radio show, and I thank everyone who sent out tapes, records and CDs for play on the air. The blog wasn't always updated in a timely matter, in fact, sometimes weeks would go by before I got the chance to post a few shows. in 2011 I plan on updating it within a few days of the show airing, and typing out some hopefully meaningful blurbs about some of the stuff I've had the time to digest.

Looking to fix up the blog a bit, as regular visitors will probably agree that it's long overdue for a revamp. Anyone out there who's interested in designing/drawing/creating a Pop Drones logo for me is urged to send over an email. Also, please get in touch if you're making music that you'd like to hear on the show, but don't bother if you haven't listened to Pop Drones and are just blog hunting and blindly sending out mp3s and filling up my inbox. Anyways, on with the list...

Top 25 LPs of 2010

1. The Whines "Hell To Play" (Meds)
2. Hype Williams "untitled" & "What Happens When People Stop Being Polite, And Start Getting Reel" (Carnivals) & (De Stijl)
3. Kitchen's Floor "Loneliness Is A Dirty Mattress" (Bedroom Suck/R.I.P. Society)
4. Fabulous Diamonds "II" (Siltbreeze)
5. Broken Water "Whet" (Night People)
6. Sex Church "6 Songs" (Convulsive)
7. Naked On The Vague "Heaps Of Nothing" (Siltbreeze)
8. Puffy Areolas "In The Army 1981" (Siltbreeze)
9. Defektors "Bottom Of The City" (Grotesque Modern/Nominal)
10. Brain Idea "Survival Scrolls" (Permanent)
11. Conspiracy Of Owls "s/t" (Burger)
12. High Wolf "Ascension" (Not Not Fun)
13. The Doozer "Great Explorers" (Siltbreeze)
14. Zond "s/t" (R.I.P. Society)
15. Emeralds "Does It Look Like I'm Here" (Editions Mego)
16. The Fresh & Onlys "Play It Strange" (In The Red)
17. Frankie Rose & The Outs "s/t" (Slumberland)
18. Tonetta "777" (Black Tent Press)
19. Gun Outfit "Possession Sound" (PPM)
20. Nerve City "Recordings 2007-2008" (Sweet Rot)
21. Ducktails "split w/Dracula Lewis" (No Fun Productions)
22. Circle Pit "Bruise Constellation" (Siltbreeze)
23. Bitchin Bajas "Tones/Zones" (Important)
24. Ty Segall "Melted" (Goner)
25. Moon Duo "Escape" (Woodsist)

2010's number one spot is owned by the only band on this list that also (supposedly) disbanded this year, which is a little sad considering that this is their debut full length. It's also not an easy one to track down-- Meds doesn't even have a proper website. In fact, I was only able to grab one of these on my last trip to Portland, the hometown of the label and The Whines. If you've been digging the vibes of Little Claw and the last two Magik Markers' LPs, then you'll definitely want to try and source a copy of this one out. This has not left my "new-arrivals-to-be-played" pile since I got it this summer. Absolute highest recommendation is bestowed upon it.

The UK's Hype Williams changed their name from The Paradise Sisters, emerged from a cloud of thick, sticky smoke and delivered a handful of head-scratching seven inches, cassettes, and two even more confounding LPs. Soon after their appearance the rumor mill began to chrun. A side-project of Joss Stone? Doubtful. Doesn't really matter the where or who of Hype Williams, all I know is that they are making some of the most blunted and leftfield music that these ears have come across in recent memory, all while being fairly easy to digest. An oddball mix of cough syrup'd beatwork, hard-to-trace and slowed-down vocal samples and a myriad of found sounds are all worked into these tracks. Easy categorization is not meant for these recordings, and in this internet age of instant-coinage it's very refreshing. First LP is out of print (try fusetron) but the brand new one on De Stijl is still out there.

Australia's 2010, more than any year in recent memory, had an amazing onslaught of great LPs released, with (U.S. based) Siltbreeze taking the lead in turning the rest of the world on to this distant continent. Tom Lax and co. released several full lengths from down under, getting important records on your turntables that would normally have been costly imports. Naked On The Vague went from a duo to a full band and considerably upped the ante on their bleak post-punk, while Fabulous Diamonds kept to the two-piece formula and expanded their ingenious concoction of hypnotic kraut-dub to it's logical conclusion with a pair of spellbinding songs that almost eat up both sides of the LP. Circle Pit also delivered on their debut LP after issuing a fine seven inch the previous year. Lazy pop infused with some gutter glam that certainly rivals the originators, at least to these ears (older, we-heard-it-first-time-around Royal Trux fans seem to be the only ones taking issue with the record). Australia's R.I.P. Society label pressed a great series of LPs on the actual continent, with my favorite release being the Kitchen's Floor debut. Brief tracks wallowing in depression that bring to mind the clatter of the Dead C wrung into song form through Beat Happening's simplistic writing style. UV Race also self released an amazing cassette* of Swell Maps-ian post-punk that they will have reissued on vinyl via Aarght! Records next year. *This is the only item on these lists that I did not have a physical copy of. A download can be found here to satiate listeners until the LP arrives.

The Fresh & Onlys delivered another binge of releases in 2010, with little deviance from the consistent quality heaped on our years since their inception two years back. Upping the production levels on Play It Strange kept the band's sound, errr, fresh, not to mention an excellent run of seven inches that had me doing mailorder from one of the world's least trustworthy postal systems: Italy. The constant touring of the four-piece has also paid off well, forging them into one of the more formidable touring bands going.

Vancouver had an excellent spat of full length releases in 2010, which even turned the head of the forever curmudgeonly Doug Mosurock. Top of my list are the Sex Church and Defektors debut full lengths, both of which caught the ear of plenty of other radio shows, blogs and critics across the globe, and deservedly so. These are finely tuned works of grim punk born out of the grey Northwestern tradition, with the Defektors re-imagining the Wipers as if crawling out of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, while Sex Church funneled the Cheater Slicks' dark garage through a kraut-punk filter. Nu Sensae, also issuing their debut LP after a few EPs, put out their most refined statement to date, released on this city's most consistent label, Nominal, who also issued the Defektors LP. AHNA made an epic trek across most of Canada this year, playing any and every show they could get out to, all in support of their excellent self-titled drone/doom LP. 2011 should be a good year for Cowards (12" or LP expected), Manic Attracts (LP forthcoming via Deadbeat), Heavy Chains (seven inch due), Flash Palace (following up that Pitchfork hype) and No UFOs (a slew of cassettes and hopefully some vinyl due), most of whom released excellent primers this year via cassette or seven inch.

An unbelievable year of releases for Siltbreeze (five made the list above) and easily the strongest since their resurrection five years back. Cleveland's Puffy Areolas finally dished out a full length of their industrial strength hate-punk after a few years of teasing Termbo nerds with hard to nab releases on smaller formats. Standing polar opposite to the Puffy's was The Doozer, who, after an excellent cassette release on Sloow Tapes and a little heard debut CD, quietly put out an immense record of twisted folk that more than resembles his most infamous fellow Cambridge alumni, Syd Barrett. The Doozer undoubtedly works in enough of his own whimsy and clever lyrics to stand proudly alongside this giant.

After countless releases, Ohio's Emeralds created a stunning double album of visionary synth and guitar based kosmiche which was a huge leap from the mostly drone-driven work of previous releases. Right alongside Does It Look Like I'm Here? was a slew of made-for-vinyl releases and re-issues of early CDRs and cassettes, including the Imaginary Softwoods double LP on Digitalis, a collection of the best tracks by Colored Mushroom And The Medicine Rocks on the group's own Wagon imprint, Mark McGuire's debut LP on Editions Mego and a reissue of three of his classic cassettes courtesy of Weird Forest and Cylindrical Habitat Modules, plus a reissue of Emeralds' What Happened on Editions Mego, and John Elliot's solo guise as Outer Space and his duo with Sam Goldberg as Mist were released by Arbor and Amethyst Sunset respectively. All those plus four seven inches released by the band to coincide with their Editions Mego album, none of which stopped the group from releasing countless cassettes and CDRs across a handful of small labels. Pretty damn tough on the wallet but worth every cent.

Other amazing full lengths by Beach Fossils, Sun Araw, Male Bonding, Oneohtrix Point Never, Big Boi, Clinic (big surprise there), White Fence, Wild Nothing, Twin Stumps, Tyvek, Blank Realm, Big Black Cloud, The Rebel, No Balls, Nice Face and Myelin Sheaths all received a ton of airplay/home play over the year.

Rest of the lists...

Seven Inches/Twelve Inches
1. Shit & Shine "Bass Puppy" 12" (Badmaster)
2. Wet Hair/Peaking Lights split 7" (Not Not Fun)
3. Manic Attracts "Animals b/w You Were The One" 7" (Perpetrator)
4. Grand Trine "Sunglasses" 12" (Divorce)
5. Kurt Vile "Square Shells" 12" (Matador)
6. The Fresh & Onlys "Impending Doom b/w Troubling Vision" 7" (Agitated)
7. Pens "You Only Like Me When I Tell You I'm Wrong b/w Love Rules" (De Stijl)
8. Rayon Beach "Memory Teeth" 12" (Hozac)
9. Sun Araw "Sun Ark" 7" (Not Not Fun)
10. Meercaz "Never Too Late To Learn b/w Brainscanning" 7" (Sweet Rot)
11. No Balls "Problems That Will Solve Themselves" 7" (DF)
12. Holy Cobras "Feed Yr Head b/w May You Be Free To Roam" 7" (Telephone Explosion)
13. Tonstartssbandht "Midnite Cobras" 7" (Psychic Handshake)
14. Broken Water "Normal Never Happened b/w Faux King Vogue" 7" (Fan Death)
15. Rot Shit "Dead I b/w Hipster Grandma and Local Band Forever" 7" (Columbus Discount)

1. No UFOs "Soft Coast" (Nice Up Intl)
2. UV Race "Homo" (self released)
3. El Jesus De Magico "Ragtime Hors" (Goaty)
4. Cowards "s/t" (self released)
5. Constant Mongrel "s/t" (Hidiotic)
6. Sleep Over "s/t" (Night People)
7. The Goslings "Sister And Son + Death Garage" 2xCS (Rotting Chapel)
8. Tassels "The Rosicrucians" (Digitalis)
9. Face Plant "Get High And Listen" (Catholic Tapes)
10. Flash Palace "Some Misinterpreted Sunsets" (Mayan Chorus)

1. Chrisma "Chinese Restaurant" (Medical Records)
2. Brainbombs "Singles Vol. 1", "Urge To Kill", "Burning Hell", and "Obey" (Load, Skrammel and Armageddon, respectively)
3. Les Rallizes Denudes "Heavier Than A Death In The Family" and "Blind Baby Has It's Mother's Eyes" (Phoenix)
4. Antena "Camino Del Sol" (Numero Group)
5. Parson Sound "s/t" 3xLP (Subliminal Sounds)\
6. Eddy Detroit "Immortal God's" (Assophon)
7. Lazy Smoke "Corridor Of Faces" (Jackpot)
8. Tommy Jay & Mike Rep "The Grim-O Comix Sequence" (Columbus Discount)
9. Manuel Gottsching "E2-E4" (bootleg)
10. The Endtables "s/t" (Drag City)
*note: these were all vinyl-only reissues. Some may have been issued on CD in the past but most here were new (again) to wax.

Episode 77-Best tracks of 2010

Conspiracy Of Owls "Raving Mad" s/t LP (Burger)
The Fresh & Onlys "Impending Doom" s/t 7" (Agitated)
The Doozer "God Does Not Need Light" Great Explorers LP (Siltbreeze)
The Whines "Here We Sit" Hell To Play LP (Meds)
Pens "You Only Like Me When I Tell You I'm Wrong" s/t 7" (De Stijl)
Broken Water "Dead Light" Whet LP (Night People)
Meercaz "Never Too Late To Learn" s/t 7" (Sweet Rot)
Grand Trine "I Am A Magnet" Sunglasses EP 12" (Divorce)
Black Feelings "Magic Feeling" split w/Grand Trine 7" (Blue Skies Turn Black)
Puffy Areolas "Deathcraze" In The Army 1981 LP (Siltbreeze)
Naked On The Vague "Mysterious Oven" Heaps Of Nothing LP (Siltbreeze)
Constant Mongrel "Goofy" s/t CS (Hidiotic)
UV Race "Burn That Cat" Homo CS (self released)
Kitchen's Floor "Left" Loneliness Is A Dirty Mattress LP (Bedroom Suck/R.I.P. Society)
Fabulous Diamonds "untitled 4" II LP (Siltbreeze)
Manic Attracts "Animals" s/t 7" (Perpetrator)
Sex Church "Ghost" 6 Songs LP (Convulsive)
Defektors "Torn To Pieces" Bottom Of The City (Nominal/Grotesque Modern)
Cowards "Join Together To Stop The Cake" s/t CS (self released)
Wet Hair "Blessed" split w/Peaking Lights 7" (Not Not Fun)
Hype Williams "untitled 7" untitled LP (Carnivals)
Sun Araw "Bump Up (High Step)" Sun Ark 7" (Not Not Fun)
Emeralds "Candy Shoppe" Does It Look Like I'm Here? 2xLP (Editions Mego)
No UFOs "side A (excerpt)" Soft Coast CS (Nice Up Intl)

DOWNLOAD EPISODE 77 here (right click link, then Save As, or just click to stream)


Anonymous said...

Really appreciated the comprehensive year in review, particularly for albums and songs. I hope you carry one!

Biggie Samuels said...

I really need to get me some Hype Williams on vinyl.