2012: AUDIO CONSIDERED
December 30, 2012
It’s been a pretty great year for music in 2012, lots of excellent stuff came out. In fact it was probably the best for years judging by the quality of some independent records these days. Below is just a brief overview of things that caught my attention.
For me the first two standouts were SKELETON KEY’s ‘Gravity is the Enemy’ and ‘Robots Fucking’ by RETISONIC. Both really well crafted & original sounding albums from bro’s now in their 40’s who are arguably making their best music. Either band could give the most jaded listener a reason to hear that innovation in rock is not dead. Later in the year the same label (Arctic Rodeo) issued the two BURNING AIRLINES records on vinyl for the first time. The additional bonus covers were a welcomed move indeed. In keeping with another DeSoto band who never had their masterstroke on vinyl until now is SHINER with‘The Egg’. Also remastered and still sounding just as great after 20 years are the repackaged SUGAR ‘Copper Blue + Beaster’ albums. It is nice to see these records have weathered well and continue to get a rebirth.
On the noisier side of rock we have UNSANE ‘Wreck’ and bassist Dave Curran’s new band PIGS ‘You Ruin Everything’ album. The same label (Solar Flare) did a recent vinyl issue of last years album by AMERICAN HERITAGE ‘Sedentary’. Possibly the best kept secret was a repress of the SHORTY ‘Thumb Days’ full length from 1993. Armin isn’t lying when he says it is ‘one of the BEST Noise Rock albums EVER!’. I’ve no real idea who are the popular bands in hardcore these days but the new BAADER BRAINS record and JOHN HENRY WEST reissue certainly beat the hell out any passing fad. It was also perfect to see MOSS ICON finally get a well deserved retrospective this year, easily one of the original ’emo’ bands most shrouded in mystery. One issue I have with the package though is a definitive written discography timeline. A band that when mentioned seems to be quite devisive is TRAGEDY, I realised they’d passed me by since ‘Vengeance’ nearly ten years ago now! Still releasing records through their own Tragedy records, ‘Darker Days Ahead’ has a gloomier, doom laden sound than previous. The songwriting is first class and the mid paced tempos allow tracks much more room to breathe. A hardcore ‘supergroup’ of sorts OLD MAN GLOOM come off from years of hiatus with ‘NO’ this year which I also found very enjoyable.
Dischord have been making lots of their back catalogue available again since they split with Southern a few years back. There are so many good records that went out of print it’s awesome to see them back remastered and expanded upon. They’ve slowly been repressing the Lungfish discography but this year we got something new in the form of LUNGFISH ‘A.C.R. 1999’. These tracks are studio demos of songs that would next appear on ‘Necrophones’. They also released the RITES OF SPRING 6 song demo on 10″, and something new in the form of a 7″ by ALARMS AND CONTROLS (members of Crownhate Ruin, Circus Lupus). Always good to know everything is always at a consistently high standard with this label.
Anyone missing Shiner, Chavez, Swervedriver take a heads up and check out the second album by PORCUPINE ‘The sensation of being somebody’. After the death of inhuman powerhouse drummer Jerry Fuchs the band TURING MACHINE finally released their swansong, while BARONESS had a narrow escape with disaster shortly after releasing their ‘Yellow & Green’ epic. On the subject of mortality the ALARIC/ATRIARCH split on 20 Buck Spin redefines ‘deathrock’ for the post 00’s with it’s invigorated twisting and turning. On a lighter note TORCHE filled out to a 4 piece again with second guitarist Andrew Elstner (former Riddle of Steel frontman). The resulting ‘Harmonicraft’ is a collection of very finely tuned heavy blasts with massive pop hooks.
I always look forward to any new RUSH album and ‘Clockwork Angels’ is a beast created by a group who can still run rings around guys half their age. Same can be said for the bands who’ve been treading their path for 20+ years such as MESHUGGAH with 7th album ‘Koloss’ and VOIVOD with the ‘Live at Roadburn 2011’ which fills a gap until ‘Target Earth’ hits early 2013. There were three significant boundary pushing progressive metal releases in 2012: the first recording with Weasel Walter on drums by BEHOLD… THE ARCTOPUS and their ‘Horrorscension’, Colin Marston also showing up again on ‘Test of Submission’ by DYSRHYTHMIA (and Krallice) + finally the resurfacing of LOINCLOTH to deliver their first full length via ‘Iron balls of steel’. This more technical, mind bending approach to riffs could be seen in the ‘black metal’ groups DODECAHEDRON and DEATHSPELL OMEGA’s ‘Drought’.
The last few bits and pieces that came to my attention late in the month were James Plotkin’s JODIS project, Danish instrumental band TOWN PORTAL & HOLLY HUNT featuring an ex FLOOR drummer getting back down to business. Not heard it yet but there was the live UNWOUND record too… Here’s to 2013 bringing us even more of the same!