I am, and have always been an album kind of guy. The only time I’ve ever liked Mix Tapes was when they had a bunch of stuff I never heard that I knew the creator loved. There is something about continuity that really strikes me. For me, that continuity comes through different twists and turns. But as it is, so much great music gets released in little teasers like the EP, the Demo Tape or the 7″ single. These formats are incredibly frustrating, because almost always they make me want more. Either more music from the band, or a bigger production. They often hint at untapped or unreleased greatness that is lurking in the members or on some assholes hard drive.
2010 was a year I actually got really back into the single and buying 7″ again. It seems a lot of DIY bands are doing tapes and 7″ again. To which I say AWESOME!, especially since they have digital downloads a lot of times so the need to digitize them or collect anthologies down the line are no longer necessary. So here are the best of these formats that found their way into my lap this year.
1. No Friends – Traditional Failures – Kiss of Death
Seriously, No Friends is a pretty awesome band. The fact is, I told you this shit was free when it came out. If you don’t know how infectious this band is by now, you are living in the dark ages. This EP was pretty welcomed as I picked up their self titled LP earlier this year. It just extends the fun, playing the full discography from front to back. This is a very good thing.
2. Double Dagger – Masks – Thrill Jockey
I saw Double Dagger open up for the Jesus Lizard in their home town of Baltimore. That show would have been a lot better if the weirdo, solo guy wasn’t in between these two bands. Because it was like seeing the past and the present collide. Double Dagger make really fucking great, art-rock music. Which is hard, because that shit can come off as disingenuous. Smart music that is actually soulful and genuine is hard to come by. Masks on the other hand hints at a band that hit their stride and decided that wasn’t good enough. I really wanted this to be an album because it is so damn good.
3. The Max Levine Ensemble – Them Steadily Depressing, Low Down Mind Messing, Post Modern Recession Blues – Asian Man
Washington DC has been in a state since 2001. Fugazi, The Dismemberment Plan and Q and Not U broke up since then. The beginning of last century gave us so much hope and it all burnt out so quickly. Little did we know that a pop punk band from Takoma Park, Maryland would emerge. It’s hard to say where the Max Levine Ensemble will go at this point. This EP is the best music they have ever made. If they put out an album building on this, punk rock will get face punched. They are ten years old now, they do not have the recognition they deserve from DC or elsewhere, this EP should be heard by more people. This band should be loved by anyone who likes music.
4. Puerto Rico Flowers – 4 – Fan Death
Fucking Fan Death Records are the real deal. They are just this small label, run by a pair of music geeks who don’t give a fuck about your band. The bands you are into (me included) are trivial. The thing about their shit talk that hit the DC internet in waves this year is that its backed up by some sick fucking bands. Puerto Rico Flowers is one of those bands. This “cold wave” (whatever the fuck that shit is) project of John Sharkey III, the instigating former front man for sludge rockers Clockcleaner, is a total head fuck. It evokes Joy Division, but resonates with a stark, dark, morose tone that would make Ian Curtis turn his head. The band refuses to tour, Sharkey having moved to Australia, and they are all but unwilling to talk publicly about the music. But what is there to say that the songs don’t already say? This is some other world type shit here. Never mind what you are listening to, it sucks.
5. Trap Them – Filth Rations – Southern Lord
Trap Them is actually better in short bursts. Probably because they are so brutal over four songs, that anymore would just cause soul fatigue. Filth Rations is the Providence band’s latest and easily greatest. They are a band that seems to shift and morph between releases, which personally has been a bit off-putting at times. Filth Rations however, nails it right on the head. It comes on full speed and doesn’t let up. Frankly, it’s fucking incredible. Metal/Hybrid Metal/Hardcore/Post Hardcore, what ever the hell this is, it’s brutal and if you want to hate yourself, which you should because you suck, then get this, now.
1. The Gift – S/T Demo – Self released. The Gift are terrifying. They combine song writing with blistering, terrifying noise. This music will boil your skin. The demo tape is loose and crazy, remnants of a band that has grown into their own. With a full length album already on the horizon, this young band is going to ruin lives. The bands these kids were in (Exosus, Turboslut, Anchors, etc) should tell you what you are in for, but only informally. The Gift kills it.
2. Zomes – Improvisations 1 & 2 – Imminent Frequencies. I love Zomes. You can’t get this tape anymore. You should be jealous. This is meditative, universal, space music. I truly can not get enough of Zomes. Ian MacKaye, are you listening? Get Asa in the studio, put out a solid release. I love the lo-fi, but it’s time to put the music world to bed. Zomes.
3. Body Cop – S/T – Fan Death. There is a reason Fan Death are all over this blog post, because those fuckers have their finger on the pulse of the most fucked up music on the planet now. Body Cop is one of the reasons I am sad to leave DC. No shit, they totally blew me away with their fucked up sludge. Body Cop, along with the Gift are redefining and owning DC’s punk rock history.
1.Frodus – Sound Laboratories 1 – Lovitt Records. When I first heard the three songs that make up this 7″ I wanted to cry. This is such a fucking tease from one of my favorite bands as a youth. The Frodus boys were my contemporaries but they made music so beyond their years. Shelby Cinca and Jason Hammacher have finally caught up to their music as musicians and Sound Laboratories 1 is document of a musical duo that has grown up together. I want more, so so so much more than can be reasonably expected. While Liam Wilson from Dillenger Escape plan does a great job on bass, I do miss Nate Burke, who to me was the missing piece. Regardless, this was so important and amazing. FCI is back.
2&3. Give – Boots Of Faith/Going Confetti – Deranged Records, Heaven is Waiting/One – React Records. Right now, in DC, Give is the most important band in operation. That’s a tall order and one I could probably argue against on any given day. But for now, right here, I mean it. These singles, coupled with a self released EP, are a document to a band that needs to be heard more. That the globe isn’t demanding more from Give is a travesty. DC always has best kept secrets, much to my chagrin. Give is that secret now and it needs to stop.
4. Puerto Rico Flowers – 2 – Fan Death Records. No quite as strong as the songs on 4, 2 still offers some really out of earth type music. It’s slow and drowning and punishing to listen to. If you just aren’t depressed enough after listening to 4, then this single will push you over the edge.
5. Too Many Daves/Dude Jams split 7″ – ADD Records. As much as my best of lists are always replete with a lot of really damaged music, I have a soft spot for punk rock. Dudes just bashing out honest or even silly songs will always capture my attention. This single was awesome and seriously, it makes me happy there is a band in the world called Dude Jams.