Jake Cregger - Triac, Multicult, No Survivors Podcast
Top Picks for 2014 - I am not an authority on anything. These items were pleasing to me in 2014.
Esplendor Geometrico - Ultraphoon
Complex rhythms bolstered by splashes of orchestrated noise and meandering distorted voice recordings. There is a huge array of interesting details and textures on this record. It exists within the same universe as past releases but this album is clearly an evolutionary step with regard to the overall sound quality. Ultraphoon is not terribly harsh like older material but seems like a refined and honed communication of the vibe these guys have been working with forever. Technically I think it was released at the end of December 2013 but has been on regular rotation all year.
(Overall - This sounds the way the inside of a 1990's calculator feels against your tongue.)
Grueling Sentence - Shroud And Silence
2 hands and one mean foot handled every instrument on this record and it is awesome! Single foot blasts paired with angular deathmetal-esque riffs (I don't know how to talk about guitar) with a blunt grind minded execution on all fronts. Joel Stallings from Defeatist and Radiation Blackbody proving that discipline and a bald head can go a long way.
(Overall - Grindcore by a guy that is probably more focused on improving his craft than you have ever been.)
Bohren and Der Club of Gore - Piano Nights
Piano Nights creates a mood and space unlike most anything I have heard. It could be the soundtrack to a few W.G. Sebald books or select scenes from different Lynch films but it is entirely its own fully developed world. Its dark, foggy and brooding but truly a great listen. This was the first record I thought of when making this list. The cover art is too perfect to be ignored.
(Overall - Its dark and you're gonna die.)
Charles Hayward - The Smell of Metal (Double LP re-issue)
This is possibly the best looking release of the year. Deluxe on every level with beautiful gate-fold artwork. If this came with blank vinyl it'd be worth the the investment. Charles Hayward (Drummer for This Heat) released these tracks in 1990 as a tribute to Mark Rothko but now they are packaged here with additional remixes. The music is just as valid today, blending natural percussion and hypnotic rhythms with ominous synths. The music matches the stark and moody artwork perfectly. Every time I hear it, I feel like something new is brought to the surface.
(Overall - I had been waiting for a record like this but didn't even know it. Check it out.)
Power Take off - Unhinged
On "Unhinged", Power Take Off finally fused their live presentation with their recorded material on this tape and it worked very well. I saw PTO over the summer and they put serious time into crafting their live sound which is physically invasive. I have never had my throat vibrate from the sonic power of a band before. A friend of mine said her eyes were jiggling in her skull due to the guitar and bass. This usually masks a band's lack of riffs but I think the repetitious heavy grooves and great riffs make PTO a huge deal of fun live... AND now they managed to communicate that power through the unique tones and sound on this tape. These looping and menacing hooks with a drum sound that recreates the feeling of sitting at a kit was a highlight for sure. The vocal delivery shifts the trajectory since the vocalist refuses to just scream his head off but instead is barking about his love for his families farming background. The packaging on this tape, with its exquisite printing and high dollar paper stock, makes for one of the most handsome tapes I own.
(Overall - Think Brainbombs meets TAD.)
Radiation Blackbody - Falling to Death Through Time and Space
Nihilistic prog from the future. This band creates music unlike anything else happening from what I can tell and the endless rhythmic twists and resulting inertia make for a really unique record. This is a step beyond their last release with a bit more groove and open space within the songs but that is not a bad thing. Great bass tones and the a very organic and raw drums. This band is exploring their own sound which is rare today.
(Overall - Angry, high powered robot versions of Tony Levin and Bill Bruford jamming... in space.)
Genocide Pact - Desecration
Great riffs, tons of groove, drum parts that elevate the songs and everything sounds so crunchy and mean. I love classic deathmetal but I also love whatever type this is because the execution here has a lot of punk leanings, which add to the intensity This band deserves all the praise they get on stage and on record. I also want to point out Connor Donegan on drums because his performance on these tracks is so solid. He locks down the groove when needed but also adds a huge amount of flair and style throughout every track. Drummers usually play it very straight or overplay but this performance supports the songs and adds some spice when needed. That's a drummers job and Connor helps the band glide through these knee wobbling riffs with ease.
(Overall - Killer riffs and thunderous drums. What more do you want?)
Banh Mi Sandwich @ Cure in Rochester, NY
In August I was in Rochester New York and I had an experience that I think has been one of the most powerful food related experiences I have had in years. Long story short, I ate the best damn sandwich I've ever had. I travel for work and over the past year I have eaten food in almost every region of the world and the Pork Belly Banh-mi sandwich at CURE in Rochester, NY tops all of it. The sandwich included Pork Sausage, country Pate, pickled vegetables & spiced mayo on a toasted baguette with cucumber salad. I ate it and basically my brain caved in on itself because I instantly let go of everything going on around me as the sandwich took over. I am pretty sure things were non-verbal for a few moments but I was able to communicate I needed more of these sandwiches and that I was in the midst of a powerful personal moment. I only mention it here because when I thought back over highlights of the year musically, this memory forced its way into my train of thought. The memory managed to jump shelves in my brain because that sandwich had so much power! Do yourself a favor and track down CURE when you are Rochester, NY.
(Overall - http://curebar.net/)
10 THINGS THAT WERE PRETTY ALRIGHT IN 2014
Gas Chamber - Hemorrhaging Light
Best record of 2014
Pig Heart Transplant - For Mass Consumption
Best record that is pretty mean
Morten J. Olsen - Bass drum!
Best record that features only a bass drum and some percussion garbage
Brutal Blues - S/T LP
Best record that has a ton of riffs but still has some serious songs
Radiation Blackbody - Falling to Death Through Time and Space
Best record that sounds like solving differential equations
Nas - Illmatic
Oren Ambarchi / Eli Keszler – Alps
Best record where the drums sound like you're falling down a flight of stairs
Beyoncé - Drunk in Love
Best song to drunkenly dance with your special lady (or fella or whatever blows your hair back)
Revenge - Rrroooaaarrr Fest in Montreal
Best gig that makes all other bands look goofy
To Øl - Fuck Art, The Heathens are Coming
Best beer from the best brewery
Steinar Kittelson - Brutal Blues, Psudoku
In alphabetical order
Autumn Harvest soundtrack
Batalj - live x 5
Dead Instrument - See Through Negative
Dead Instrument - live x 2
Freddy The Dyke - live x 6
Golden Statue - live at Consul80
Horacio Pollard - The Emotional Freedom Technique And The Theta Brainwave Caused By Manta Ray
Infero - Severe
NMO - live at Consul80
Noxagt - Brutage
Robby Komen - Sea Of Shit, Diseased Audio
#1 - Gas Chamber - Hemorrhaging Light LP (I knew this thing was going to be good, but man it was REALLY good. Surpassed all my expectations).
#2 - Radiation - s/t 7" (this 7" fucking blindsided me, unrelenting grindviolence from Miami? Gainesville? Something around there, I forget. This came out of nowhere and streamrolled right over my jaded ass. I love the lack of information or presence this band has on the internet too, creates a mystique about them that I can appreciate, or more so gives off an "I don't give a fuck" attitude which also works for me, whatever the case I am probably romanticizing/sensationalizing it because it just plain rips).
#3 - Water Torture - Pillbox LP (biased choice of course, these are my homies and I have released two records for them already + did a split with them...caught their 2nd or 3rd show as a band and was hooked ever since, no one can touch 'em.).
#4 - SFN / In Disgust split 7" (SFN are/were one of the best modern day powerviolence bands, and they are hometown heroes of the Midwest hailing from Madison, WI. This release was like 3 years in the making and finally dropped in 2014. Endless pressing plant issues, both bands being defunct, etc...it finally came out posthumously as a one-sided 7" instead of the initial split 5" it was slated to be. I was indifferent on the IxDx tracks, despite loving the band's previous efforts, but the SFN tracks (albeit only being three of them) are incredible and I'm glad they finally got to see the light of day).
#5 - Pig Heart Transplant - For Mass Consumption LP (been waiting for a new PHT release to drop forever, been an avid listener of every release. This was one of the few records I was frothing at the mouth to hear. Rhythmic and pummeling noise/pe brutality).
#6 - No Faith - Dead Weight 7" (old school Suppression worship done to perfection, still making it their own thing though...ex Vaccine guys, this is my favorite release of theirs thus far)
#7 - Internal Rot - Mental Hygiene LP (blistering grindcore from the land down under, bonus points for putting Kate Bush on the cover...played with this band and they blew me away live).
#7.5 - Iron Lung - Savagery 7" (well...it's fucking Iron Lung, not much else to be said).
#8 - Sick/Tired - Dissolution LP (biased choice, again, close friends that have I have watched put in a lot of hard work, best-of-the-Midwest grinders 2nd full length (technically 3rd but the first one doesn't count to me)).
#9 - Brutal Blues - LP (fucking WEIRD sounding grind band, in the best possible way, I love this record and the barrage of delay-drenched vocals).
#9.5 - Rapturous Grief - Ficcion Corporative 7" (another pleasant surprise, crushing pv with a killer vocalist).
#10 - Vile Intent - Demo 2014 (a few songs from a scrapped LP recording session were slapped on a tour tape...these sound great to me, gritty and mean pv band can do no wrong).
Honorable mention: Pleasure Cross 12" (it's good but I haven't listened to it enough to let it truly sink in yet, it's still very fresh to my ears. I was always a fan of Walls and the vocalist specifically impressed me in that band so naturally I was drawn to Pleasure Cross when I heard he was the vocalist...the Pleasure Cross demo was also really good but that was 2013).
Best live band I saw in 2014: SHITSTORM in Chicago...probably one of the best sets I've ever witnessed in general.
Casey Moore - Magrudergrind, Cuffed
1. Lumpy and the Dumpers - Total Punk 7”
I can pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with this record: 1:51 minutes into Side A, “Gnats in the Pissa,” when a saxophone solo (!) somehow turns a song about a urinal full of bugs into something even more disgusting. Also, pretty sure that guitar is slightly out of tune. Big fan.
2. Internal Rot - Mental Hygiene LP
A perfect grindcore record. I heard “Mental Hygiene” about eight months into a year spent mostly practicing blast beats, the performances are so good and so full of energy, I immediately felt like a fraud. Four months later, I still do.
3. Test - Balão de Azar Flexi 7”
From their logo on down, you really get the sense that Test are completely in charge of their own sound. In a little more than four minutes we hear about five different bands, or what could be bands, and it’s all good.
4. Matyrdöd - Elddop LP
Relentlessly catchy, “Elddop” is an absolute burner. These riffs just seem to float above the rest of the band. Too much melody, you cry? Keep it to yourself, you dope.
5. Hank Wood and the Hammerheads - Stay Home LP
They are so good and they don’t give a shit. I don’t know that I would call “Stay Home” more mature than 2012’s “Go Home” necessarily, but it feels like more of a record, more of a succinct statement. Maybe, I don’t know. Whatever you think.
6. Dead Congregation - Promulgation of the Fall LP
A first class death metal record that doesn’t open with a bunch of spooky trumpets or some goofy atmospheric sample: it starts with two snare hits into a blast beat. As it should be.
7. Infernöh / Nomad - Split LP
I’m picking this for the Infernöh side, and I’m picking that because I like the recording quality so much. The songs are tight, too.
8. Hysterics - Can’t I Live?
It sounds like United Blood-era Agnostic Front but it’s four women from Olympia. Just a classic hardcore record that any man would’ve been overjoyed to have written.
9. Blotter - Under Armour ’77
I was on board the minute I saw the drawing of that dumb Daniel Johnston alien thing being killed on the cover. I’m really into this new crop of deliberately stupid punk bands.
10. Narc - Demo 2
Best band/drummer/dude in New York.
Aaron Nichols - Nerve Altar
1. Bohren & Der Club of Gore - Piano Nights Back in classic form
2. Gas Chamber - Hemorrhaging Light Beyond any scene or genre
3. Wovenhand - Refractory Obdurate Sold our souls for Rock n Roll
4. Internal Rot - Mental Hygiene How grindcore should be done
5. Scott Walker/Sunn - Soused Disaster narrowly avoided
6. Teitanblood - Death Wretched and horrific
7. GATH ŠMÂNÊ - Transmuted Marrow Savagery
8. Cliff Martinez - The Knick OST Anachronismal
9. The Wayward - In Alphabetical Order Weirdos resurrected to riff you to death
10. Jessica93 - Rise Swirling psychedelic guitar droning over primitive drum loops that speaks to your inner goth. God Machine meets Loop with early Robert Smith on vocals? Also, worst band name ever.
Shout out for the Cuffed demo too. Ex-Psychic Limb bros making noisy, catchy hardcore punk. Get at bothellmetal@hotmail for info
Andrew Nolan - Column Of Heaven, Death Agonies, etc
10 things in 2014:
1. Taking my 67 year old mother visiting from England to a free Swans show in Toronto. The teenage me would have thought that this would be the funniest thing in the world ever (or, more realistically, i would have been surly about it and muttered something about how stupid it is under my breath at no one in particular). Obviously she didn't really care either way, wore my earplugs and stuck her fingers in her ears for the whole duration. As i get older i'm more and more interested in how space is used for cultural purposes, seeing Swans perform in the awful pretend-public space of Dundas square was surreal and gave me a lot to think about.
2. I volunteer to work fests when they happen close by to me, it means i don't have to pay in, can see what i want to see and don't get that sinking feeling three bands in when i wonder what the hell i'm doing there and why i'm not at home reading a book on the couch with my dog; it gives me a purpose to be there when my natural inclination is to go home. At Not Dead Yet this year i fucked up and got stuck running a show that i had no interest in running at all and didn't know any of the bands on the bill. However, i saw some of the most vital hardcore bands i've seen in a long time that i otherwise wouldn't have seen, Ajax and Ooze were perfect and personified everything a decent hardcore show should be. DiE at another show were amazing as well, not what i was expecting at all. Let's have the lesson here be "you're not to old to see shit that will surprise you and totally blow you away". Lots of music is terrible, lots of cultural practices in underground music are terrible, but i have no time for the jaded.
3. I also worked Rrroooaaarrr fest in Montreal in the summer and got to watch Blasphemy and Revenge soundcheck. That was incredible. J Read goes for it in soundcheck as much as he does live.
4. Order from Chaos - Frozen in Steel box set on Nuclear War Now. I'm really not into the weird idolizing of old bands who usually don't merit it at all, particularly when the reissues are the worst offences of commodity fetishism ever. "Hey! Do you vaguely remember that one band from Sweden that had a tape you quite liked 20 years ago? Well we reissued it in a 14xLP box set with a flag, poster, bottle opener, VHS tape of their second rehearsal, crack pipe, logo branded electrical tape, goetic salt n pepper shakers, and remote control airplane!" Fuck that garbage. Anyway, the massive Order from Chaos box set that arrived in the mail yesterday is the exception to that rule, one of the few genuinely great death metal bands in the mid-90s, when death metal was largely a wasteland.
5. We did a short tour with Full of Hell, I like those guys a lot, good band, good people. I'm curious to see what they do as individuals way into the future, they could all go in many directions.
6. Mysticum - Planet Satan LP finally came out after years of rumours and false hope. And it's just as awesomely demented as I'd hoped it would be, love the giant poster of Planet Satan (literally a planet with the Mysticum logo on it) and pictures of them looking like a satanic raver Rammstein.
7. Painkiller issued Running for Cover's 2003 demo on LP, I miss that band and given how close Toronto is to Buffalo I regret that a former ensemble of mine only played two shows with them. Easily my favourite US hardcore band of the 2000s.
8. Speaking of Running for Cover, the Gas Chamber - Hemorrhaging Light LP was superb and we played a handful of shows with them this year, each time they blew me away; Jerid has the Ripcord fast beat down perfectly. Good to see people are starting to catch on to Gas Chamber, at times they're the perfect extension of late era G-Anx, at other times they're just their own thing entirely, floating off in to the cosmos.
9. Wolfbait - A Veil of Phosphorous Rot tape. There was a digital version of this in 2013, but i'd forgotten how good this was until the tape made it's way into hands. I'm pretty sure this Irish band are dead and buried now, leaving two excellent tapes, the self titled 2013 noise rock/ drone crossover and this tape of sound collage and experiments, not noise which denotes nothing in 2014, just a lot of great ideas put together in a way that pleased me.
10. Nekromantik on blu-ray. I watched the shit out of this when i had a 20th generation VHS dub in 1992, nice to be able to watch it without having to fruitlessly adjust my tracking every 10 seconds.
Jason Schulmerich - Yawn Factory
Aweful Kanawful - "Pharoah's Lonely Ego" tape
Gas Chamber - Hemorrhaging Light LP and live
Radiation Blackbody - Falling To Death...LP and live
Hepa/Titus - Gettin' It On LP
Mary Lattimore and Jeff Ziegler - Slant of Light LP
Total Control - Typical System LP
Unwound reissue box sets
Hardcore DEVO LPs
Fair Warning, Diver Down, Reggatta de Blanc, Peni and the Pop-o-Pies when all else failed.
Joshua Scott - Radiation Blackbody
1. Best book (graphic)
Jason Schulmerich - Stepping Out (The Moonlighter)
Always lurking, the constant Maximum Voyeur is constant. Tireless and real.
2. Best book (text)
Peter Sotos - Desistance (Nine Banded Books) (Reissue)
Using Antoine D'Agata's photographs as a starting point, clearly traced paths of reminiscence through back rooms, interviews, porno reviews, and the most concise deconstruction of compulsion and no doubt available to the general public.
3. Best LP
Dead Congregation - Promulgation of the Fall (Norma Evangilium Diaboli)
Waited forever. Seeing it live cemented their position.
4. Best 7"
Raw Distractions - Raw Fight EP (Hardcore Survives)
This did not come off my turntable for several months.
5. Best tape
Gath Šmânê - Transmuted Marrow (Blutige Magie)
For lovers only.
6. Best live show
Two night of Virus at St Vitus
Also because Drew fell in love.
7. Best record my roommate played on
Raspberry Bulbs - Privacy (Blackest Ever Black)
More Chrome Metal than Black Metal.
8. Best collaboration between a band I despise and Western civilization's greatest lyricist/ collagist.
Scott Walker + Sunn - Soused (4AD)
Polishing turds, and rethinking my hatred.
9. Best reissue
GISM - Military Affairs Neurotic LP (Boot)
This should probably be the Anti-Cimex box set, but since I neglected to order it (like a dummy), it's the GISM boot here. Aaron's copy was quite handsome.
10. Best show I played
Triac, Sea of Shit, Sick/Tired, and Bottomed at Club Rectum in Chicago.
Best venue, surrounded by friends, alcohol, interested people, and amazing bands. Thank you.
Brad Skibinsky - Mass Deadening, Head Hits Concrete
Top 10 2014. Not including my own releases, locals, reissues, releases not on vinyl, or things I didn't buy or haven't had time to really give a listen to thoroughly.
In no order and at the moment:
Mayhem - Esoteric Warfare LP
Swallowed - Lunarterial LP
Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta III LP
Brutal Blues - s/t LP
Carpe Noctem - In Terra Profugus LP
Morbus Chron - Sweven LP
Mutilated Veterans - Necro Crust Warhead LP
Internal Rot - Mental Hygiene LP & live
Teitanblood - Death LP
Ulver/SUNNo))) - Terrestrials LP
Would probably be on the list given a couple more weeks; Occultation - Silence In the Astral House, Meth Drinker - Oil. Bolzer and Malthusian were too short to bump anything for. New Pantalones cd is not on vinyl. Horrible Pain lathe is just a 7". Etc...
Ryan Stoner - Anthems of the Undesirable
10. Radiation Blackbody Falling To Death Through Time and Space (Ultraviolet Catastrophe)
Amazed that I hadn’t heard of this band prior to this Spring. For the uninitiated, this is the rhythm section from Defeatist and Anodyne playing what I’ve heard referred to as prog-inspired powerviolence. Enjoyed the first LP, but I spin this one far more often. Eagerly awaiting the new EP - and with any luck, some greater recognition for this band.
09. Old Man Gloom Ape of God (Profound Lore/SIGE)
I wasn’t as into “No” as their earlier work, but “Ape of God” (all versions) sees the band in top form both in their songwriting and in fucking with their listeners. As usual, their best moments are when they get weirdest, and “Ape of God” sees Old Man Gloom obviously enjoying themselves and trying the kind of shit bands talk about doing in the studio and don’t follow through on. One of the best in the game.
08. Blood Sun Circle Bloodiest/Sunniest (Hex)
I had never heard of Blood Sun Circle before they played with Moutheater this summer, but I dug on Engineer (their previous band) and scored copies of this LP from Hex after Passing Key came out. It’s a subtle and steady ride, and an excellent one. Frankly, this is the record that Young Widows should have written - subdued and plodding post-hardcore from gear heads and masters of minimalism.
07. Mysticum Planet Satan
This record snuck up on me, but it was immediately more compelling to me than so many of the other acclaimed metal albums of 2014. I’ve found that the younger crowd tends to reject this release - and on some level I see why it’s not for everyone, but when I think about it along the lines of something like Mortician or Dissection, I’m into it. My favorite “dumb” record of the year.
06. Nyodene D Mouths That Reap The Harvest (Urashima)
Aaron has been putting out consistently solid material for years, but I’d say this LP edges out last year’s “Atop Masada” as my favorite thus far. One of the most exciting acts in american power electronics, at arguably his best form yet. Dynamic and intelligent industrial with a spirit that I’d like to see more out of punk and hardcore bands, much less the noise scene.
05. The Body (and Haxan Cloak) I Shall Die Here (RVNG)
I might go so far as to say I enjoy this album more than their last LP. It’s significantly more concise, but also shows the band incorporating more noise and, well, less metal aspects into their songs. I enjoy how this seems to display Chip and Lee’s love of alt-industrial acts while still sounding like a Body record. I should also mention that the collaborative album with Thou was also killer.
04. Pharaoh Negative Everything (A389 Recordings)
How rewarding is it when you champion a good band and you get to watch them grow into a great one? Pharaoh were largely overlooked after their first two 7”s on A389 came out, but now seem to be getting some much deserved attention. And with good timing - this LP has more nuanced songwriting and a clear understanding and execution of what the band wanted to accomplish in recording. Definitely my favorite act on an already stacked roster.
03. Raspberry Bulbs Privacy (Blackest Ever Black)
I love how R.B. have essentially eschewed the black metal genre by now. Their newest effort shows an affection for post-punk and more simplified rock song structures, but with continued growth in songwriting and more noise and cohesiveness. Excited to see how pissed Bone Awl fans get once they go even further with their next release (whenever that might be.)
02. Moutheater Passing Key (Anthems of The Undesirable)
I can genuinely say this would be on my list even had i not been affiliated with the album. Great, and surprisingly poppy songwriting emotionally distraught lyrics that blow most “personal” bands out of the water. Production inspired by the likes of “Siamese Dream” or “Rated R,” but through Andrew and Tim’s filters of Nirvana, Tad, Melvins, etc. What really makes this one stick out though is the back half of the album, where psychedelic influences and guitarist Andrew Aircraft’s deep abiding love of classic rock meld surprisingly well with Moutheater’s already established brand of noise-rock via grunge.
01. Gas Chamber Hemorrhaging Light (Iron Lung)
Early one, we all saw this one coming. In constant rotation since it’s release. The best punk album of the year or sure - but more importantly, Hemmorhaging Light was both a pleasant surprise AND the next logical progression of their songwriting and abilities as a band. It should surprise no one that Iron Lung has put out one of the best records of the year AGAIN, but I should in fairness to a great label also confirm that the Pleasure Cross, Lowest Form, Demon Brother, and Iron Lung records they out out this year were all gnarly and would rightfully deserve spots on a more comprehensive list - which will be available through the Anthems website shortly.