As you may or may not be aware, the year 2016 kinda was a terrible year, if you're the kind of person who like for life to be generally "good". As good as can be, depending on your station in life, and/or your ability to allow the concept of goodness to permeate yo shit.
That's not to say though, that it wasn't a good year to keep your ears peeled for new sounds. Because on that particular front, it was really good. Great even. 2016 had a veritable "ass load" of wonderful new music, assuming you knew where to look (and don't look at me!). I don't exactly know where to look anymore, but sometimes I get lucky, and sometimes things find me (it's the musk...impenetrable yet so alluring), and I managed to hear all kinds of records that tickled the ole fancy (scrotum, if you must know). So much so that when the task of assembling a "Best Of" list came around, I had too many choices to choose from. Too much tuna fish!(Oh, Hello reference for all the Nick Kroll heads in the building).
So, in an effort to cover my bases, to not allow these great records to fall between the cracks, and at least acknowledge the greatness bestowed upon my ears this calendar year, may I present to you the precursor to this year's Best Of List...
THE ALMOST TOP SOMETHING OR OTHER LIST OF 2016!
(in no particular order)
Animal Lover – Stay Alive 12”
This Minneapolis by way of Fargo band is all over the place here. From laconic stoner riffs in the distance, to terse Birthday Party darkness, to out-and-out pots and pans noise, to straight ahead rocking bombast, they cover it on this record. Highly and ambitious and rewarding.
Superjoint - Caught Up In The Gears Of Application
Soooooo, you drink a little bit too much pinot grigio and end up yelling "white power" while on stage. Not a great look. Oh, AND you throw in a sieg heil while you're at it? Yikes. Really not a good look. For fuck's sake Phil Anselmo...pull it together and quite doing dumb shit. Your bullshit is overshading your good shit. Like Superjoint. Full tilt, high grade ripping hardcore/sludge/crust/metal.
Stove - Is A Toad In The Rain
Label: Exploding In Sound
A departure from the last record (a very very good record worth investigating), this version of Stove is less raucous and more introspective. Essentially a one man band from Ovlov man dude Steve Hartlett (with help from his friends), Stove is a fully realized exploration of cracked indie rock. While the last album was an extension of Ovlov's big guitar fuzz, this one has moments of Deerhunter, some early 90's shoegaze, and some bedroom lo-fi (more mid-fi, if we're being technical).
Muuy Biien - Age Of Uncertainty
Label: Autumn Tone
Pretty much having put their hardcore roots in the rear view mirror, Muuy Biien have gone full blown "mature" with a shimmering swagger of swamp blues post punk menace. And I'm not complaining mind you. Must be something in the water in Athens, Georgia, cause there's a couple other notable bands plumbing the same depths.
The Blind Shake - Celebrate Your Worth
This band never disappoints. Big and warm with the baritone guitar holding down the fort while the standard guitar weaves in and out of surf-y, noisy, off kilter jags. Unique to say the least. You've heard it, "sorta", but you really haven't. So good.
Child Bite - Negative Noise
The award for "The Band That Would Have Been On SST Had It Come Out In 1984" Award goes to..Child Bite! It's rare that a band can channel Jello Biafra and Greg Ginn and still sound fresh, but, by jimminy, they've done it. A new take on an old favorite. Essential.
Illegal Drugs - Illegal Drugs
Label: self released
Atlanta band sporting a member of Hawks (which should be enough) who deliver a captivating blend of dark post punk, Gun Club styled stomp, garage rock swing, and classic punk rock (like, the actual The Damned kind of punk rock). Maybe should be on the "actual" Best Of list...it's real real good.
Sumac -What One Becomes
Label: Thrill Jockey
So dense, and suffocatingly heavy, this is the record you (I...we?) wanted after last year's unexpected lambasting (unexpected by me anyway) from 'The Deal' album. Three experts in the field of make shit gnarly, do just that. A big, gnarled gargantua of over amplification. It's the post-Isis record you didn't think you would ever get, and now you've gotten two of them. Lucky S.O.B.
Dead Heavens - Feel Low 7"
Label: Thrill Me
If you're not excited by the recent resurgence of Walter Schreifels related activity in the world, then...well...I just don't know how we can move forward. To be spoiled the last two years with so many Wally Biscuits riches, what a time to be alive! Then to bring in Drew from Into Another, Bold, Crippled Youth, Walking Concert, and New Rising Sons, I mean, c'mon. One original, a desert baked psych-fuzz trip of low groove, and one Can cover. All you need.
Agoraphobic Nosebleed - Arc
A (temporary) reprieve from the mechanical grinding blast the band has honed since 'Honky Reduction', but this three song ep is no less punishing. It's an avalanche of roiling metallic sludge that leaves no room for light to penetrate. All bludgeon, no cuddles. A daughter says goodbye to her mother for the final time.
Plague Vendor - Bloodsweat
Dead Moon meets Refused? The Black Keys covering TSOL? Another band mining the blacker shadow of post punk and death rock, but infusing it with new energy and a post hardcore vigor. I'm good with this.
Car Seat Headrest - Teens Of Denial
Joke was on me when I thought nobody had ever heard of this dude, but over the course of the year he showed up on late night tv talk shows, and in conversations with folks I would consider "squares" (in the nicest way, mind you) who were buying way advanced tickets to see him live. Guess I'm not as cool as I previously thought (or have been told by no one, ever). But whatever, I like his nerdy mix of The Strokes and Jake Bugg.
Mannequin Pussy - Romantic
Label: Tiny Engines
Good, shouty, blown out rock music with a pop backbone. I'm a sucker for it. Add in some grungy punk, and you've really got something here. This is another one that could have made it into the big leagues of the actual "Best Of" list. It really is great.
Neurosis - Fire Within Fires
Always excited for new Neurosis, because you well know that when they are on they are untouchable. And this record is on, a lot. Gets a tad long winded, and there are a few stretches that don't hold attention as well as others, but...I mean..it's a new Neurosis record, be thankful.