Posted by Kevin | Posted in Album Reviews, CD Release, Music News | Posted on 08-01-2012
Tags: #occupybellingham, #ows, 1776, 2011, best albums 2011, best of STM, Big Wheel Stunt Show, Compilations, hello electric, hip hop, Junkyard Empire, modern athletics, motopony, occupy wall street, pete international airport, psych rock, psychedelic, rock, The Fun Police, top10, Tyrannosaurus Grace
Well, folks, this is the first time that I have created any Top 10 lists, but I’ve been working on this all year long. If you have listened to my show ‘Musical Yarns from the Counterculture‘ (on Facebook) at all this year, some of these bands might not be a surprise to be on this list.
Clicking on the album pictures will take you to a point of purchase if you are interested.
To qualify for this list, the album had to be nationally released (via digital or physical delivery) after 09/15/2010. The list is after the jump.
10. Various Artists – Psychic Occupations Compilation (Psychedelic Rock) - Compilations rarely make top 10 lists – in fact, my own that I put together and released this year didn’t make the list – but I really dig this one. Made up of mostly Portland, OR artists, it highlights the deep pool of talent currently welling up in the Portland Music Scene. From Highway to The Shivas, SexyWaterSpiders to Hawkeye, the aptly named masterminds of this project, Souvenir Driver, have taken a cross section of several Portland based subcultures and contexts of the psychedelic rock genre. Rock on, Portland. Proceeds for this $5 download go to the Occupy Wall Street NYC General Fund.
9. Tyrannosaurus Grace – EP1 (Rock) - Timmy Held fronts this alt-synth rock group from Ellensburg, WA, which has had much success in both their own town, as well as pretty much any time that they venture west of the Cascades to play in Seattle or Tacoma areas. I asked TGrace to come and play the Tacoma Hempfest afterparty with 1776, Not From Brooklyn, and The Flight of Phanuel after picking up their CD in early May. Our relationship has continued to mature, and when Timmy’s Fake Label Records was born this fall, Tyrannosaurus Grace’s E.P.1 was also included in the flotsam and jetsam of their label creation. I picked up the EP to review it, and though it is only 7 total tracks including a remix of a tune from their debut album, its nothing short of a technical masterpiece in the indie, self-produced world. Monster is definitely my favorite track from this album, but the remix of Sustenance from Stimulents is so much different from the original that it gets an honorable mention. You can pick this one up on CDBaby.
8. Junkyard Empire – Acts of Humanity Vol 1 + 2 (Rock/Jazz/Hip-Hop) - If there has ever been an album for the times, this is it for many people – but they probably don’t even know that an anthem of their struggle had preceded their occupation by mere months. Junkyard Empire reconstructs a jazzier, yet just as hard at times, fusion of urban sound reminiscent of Rage Against The Machine. The vocals are a lot less of a direct assault as compared to the same group. Vocalist Brihanu, an accomplished scholar (as are many members of the group), has a flow that is smooth like a top shelf whiskey. Are you in to politics? Education? Liberation of the American people? Enjoy this album with your favorite friends, cannabis, alcohol, or tobacco, or any combination thereof, and ponder the message. There is a ton of depth and loads to consider listening to this piece of art.
7. Modern Athletics – Give Us A Shove (Rock) - I fell into Modern Athletics earlier this year when I saw a show including Port Townsend’s The Solvents and Seattle/Tacoma rockers Motopony (more on motopony later). It was actually Modern Athletic’s CD release party, and I was more than happy to go and introduce myself to more new music. I was floored by both their live performance (clip) and immediately snatched up one of the recently pressed discs. One listen and I was hooked. I tried to make a show or two happen with them this year, but we didn’t line up. Perhaps next. Regardless, you should go see them, and drop by their bandcamp site where you can hook up with a digital copy of this album at the great rate of NAME YOUR PRICE, including free.
6. Pete International Airport – Pete International Airport (Psychedelic Rock) - Peter Holmstrom of The Dandy Warhols has formed himself a little super group here, and put out a super fucking album. No doubt that Holmstrom is the most commercially successful of the crew but Adams (The Upsidedown), Anchondo (Warlocks/Spindrift/Hawkeye), Hegna (Cocaine Unicorn, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Federale), and Railton (Blue Giant) are some fab folks to have rounding out your sound experience. I had the opportunity to ask Peter about PIA while he was touring with Highway in 2009, and he told me that for him, Pete International Airport has been an exploration of the sonic soundscape, and the space between notes. At times soft rock, at times drone rock, this album is all fantastic psych/shoegaze. This one is available digitally, everywhere, but I recommend purchasing directly from the artist at EVERY opportunity. You can pick up this gem, here, at PIA’s page.
5. Big Wheel Stunt Show – Cheetah Milque (Rock) - In terms of total rocking out to any local act at a live show, The Big Wheel Stunt Show is unbeaten in providing the tunes in which to absolutely rock. Far from metal, but hard enough to be Hard Rock at times, BWSS brings a mix of 70s rock, blues, soul, and love to their music that will flat out knock you on your ass. Sonic explosion? Ummm, yeah – It’s all here. Sexy men wailing on stage — go see ‘em live. Bassist Jake Melius melts many a ladies hearts, minds, and panties with his solos, as does alt-rocker heart throb Evan Nagle. Justin Gimse hammers the skins, and sings lead on a few numbers while lighting up the drums for all they are worth. Cheetah Milque kicks off with the title track, which is a bluesy/rocky tune showcasing the abilities of the band. Anthem Puget Blues is another amazing anthem powering this album, but my personal favorite is the psych inspired ‘Life Has Me’. Great songs for rocking out, with amzing technical proficiency. Pick this one up soon, cause all the cool kids are getting it.
4. hello electric – dead champions EP – (Rock) - This was the video that got me really excited for this EP release. hello electric reminds me a bit of older (’91-’94) Nine Inch Nails, but a fair amount lighter on the electronic effects. This is a extremely competent power three piece that plays the loud/soft game very, very well. The opener ‘Hook’ exemplifies this very much. Kirk (vox/guitar) is a powerhouse, and soulful despite the temperament of the music. Henry (Bass/Synth/Percussion) is spot on in the odd and interesting beat pairings. Zach (drums/percussion) simply rocks the fucking kit like a madman to assist in the power plant that is hello electric. They aren’t all hard rock, though — ‘Introduction’ clearly highlights a softer side that permeates an entire song. 4 tracks, for $4 at Bandcamp! Pick this one up for sure if this description floats your boat at all.
3. Motopony – Motopony – (Folk/Rock) - I mentioned these gents a bit earlier in the Modern Athletics bit, but now its time for some focus. A mixed lot, with members hailing from Tacoma, Seattle, and Longview, WA, this band has come on strong since 2009. I’ve been aware of them for some time, but it was that Modern Athletics CD release party that I first caught them at. Lead singer Daniel Blue clearly has command of the room and stage, an impassioned frontman, he leads the way drawing visual attention to his persona on the stage. That’s not to say that the rest of the members aren’t interesting — they are. However, Blue weaves a dancing and emotional web from center stage that draws most of the attention. The disc is no different, really. NPR has been giving it tremendous love since even prior to its nationwide release; The tracks flow, are beautiful, and exciting as new music can be. This is definately a recommended pick-up.
2. The Fun Police – Clown Control – (Folk/Punk/Rock/Reggae) FROM MY 10/14/11 REVIEW: Oh yes, The Fun Police are back with another disc, ‘Clown Control’, weaving their way through a collection of 13 tracks that wander through genres like a journeyman traveller through customs. From punk folk to Asian flavored folk, straight rock to reggae, The Fun Police are blazing trails through music country, with a delicious taste of their flavorful offerings for everyone. Never heavy handed, these gents and one lady (the bad cop?) seem to churn out tune after tune of quality music that never really sounds like the track before it. Add it all up, and that is a delicious recipe for music lovers. Now available for just $5 at their Bandcamp site.
1. 1776 – 1776 – (Rock) - I really can’t ever remember being as excited about this album as any other, and it was a significant delivery. Simple in packaging, this album is complex in its Rock and Roll, shining technical excellence and superb recording/mixing from beginning to end. 1776 hails from the Longview(WA)/Kelso(WA)/Rainier(OR), and sports four junior members to the rock circuits of the PNW, but not junior musicians. Frontman Nigel Ledgerwood, 21, is a master of the 6 and twelve strings while delivering his spot on vocal performance while weaving a live show. Bernard (Christopher) Cook, 22, jams out some fine leads himself, but primarily fills the rhythm/lead guitar/backing vox with little effort and superb delivery. The rhythm section is filled out by drummer Mitchell Ruppe, 21, and the lefty bassist (who plays a righty bass upsidedown, strung correctly for a righty) is Zach Whiton, 18, who provide a solid, steady, rock attack. Ranging from driving rock to instrumental, to country rock, this disc has it all. Each song is a treasure for the most part, filled with young, fresh, witty lyrics that reminds you that the kids are alright. Rock and Roll will be just fine with cats like 1776 rocking out. You can only grab this disc in person, on Amazon, or on iTunes, currently.