2011. Coulda been a good one for you or a shit one. Either way, you'd have to have had your head buried deeper than a rabbit hole to miss even a handful of the great music that was released last year. It seemed overwhelming at times to even keep up with new stuff that was coming out from all directions. Some would-be classics, perhaps. And what else is there when all is going bad? Music. And regardless of sales graphs and numbers-- '11 was a great year for music. Standout albums, ep's, reissues and even the occasional "fan club release".
Speaking for myself, i could't possibly make a complete list as I didnt hear enough stuff to call that a fair, definitive list. It's a chunk of stuff that, as i spend my days behind a counter at Spiral Scratch, listened to repeatedly and was moved by in some form. But what's my opinion worth over any customer or "helper"? So instead of this post being about me--it's about others whose tastes i value as much as my own. Some even more. Never fool yourself about record store workers who sneer at you...they are merely humanoids who chose to work at a record shop (good move, too) over the local convenience store or cubicle hell. Your opinion is as worthy as anyone's (in most cases...but I still don't get the Black Keys, I'll trust they do something for you.) It's more about how important these releases were to us and that we took the time to express ourselves about them via this sloppy blog. We hope you get satisfaction, information and pleasure from, too.
2011 ended hard for me but I can find good in it. I did, and i too made a list. Lists spark debate sometimes, they can make you take a second look or totally question someones taste. Best case, they introduce you to something you may have missed. So without further ado, let's check out what Spiral Scratch and our friends found good about 2011. In no particular order...
part-time employee, (sub)culture expert, soon to be "worlds greatest mom" and Spiral Scratch interior designer/organizer.
Best Album: Davila 666 - Tan Bajo
Best Album Cover - Washed Out - Within And Without
Best Flyer- Cages, Sonorous Gale, River of Ichthyosis @ Mohawk
Best New Zine - Subject #1 (pat shanahan)
Derek Neuland - part-time employee, consultant, CEO of Bit Part Buttons and general 'sweet dude'. Also, one of the Thirsty Dudes* and zinesmith. A crucial asset to our little shop here. Derek responded swiftly with lists aplenty. Enjoy...
Top 11 Albums:
Fucked Up - David Comes To Life Dead Language - s/t Lemuria - Pebble Pains of Being Pure At Heart- "Belong" Joyce Manor - s/t Wild Flag - s/t Jay Z/Kanye West - Watch The Throne Shoppers - Silver Year Oathbreaker - Maelstrom Ke$ha- I Am The Dance Commander + I Command You To Dance:The remix album Big Eyes- Hard Life
11 Best Live Bands
Joyce Manor Ume Procecession Lemuria Off With Their Heads Pleasure Leftists Screaming Females
Anchovies - owner, Spiral Scratch, big jerk and sloppy looking guy living a dream as long as I can while the rest of the world crumbles around me. I also love music, my mom and old lady, and miss a bunch of folks a lot which makes me crabby sometimes. here are some things that made me very happy, in no order at all, in 2011.
11. Human Eye - They Came From The Sky
Not their first, though most definitely the apex of Timmy Vulgers Human Eye. A bit weird, surrounded by incredible musicians--this may be his crowning achievement so far. Timmys Organism was no slouch either, but TCFTS is a whopper of an album that must be heard.
11. Total Control - Henge Beat - Don't ever let anyone tell you Australia isn't the home of the some of the best rock and roll ever made. You can take the Saints who owned first wave punk and go in all directions. Currently, Eddy Current Suppression Ring have caught the ears of the masses, and with good good reason. Mikey, who plays guitar with the breaking ECSR is also a key cog in this ace aussie outfit. Post-punk, some electronic, some rave up rockers--often herky jerky--Total Control strung it altogether (overshadowing several other great aussie releases) in seemingly effortless, perfection. This is real deal music, folks. Hey, I dug the ICEAGE record but it pales in comparison to this gem. Do not overlook their half of the tour split with thee Oh Sees whom they opened for across the US in 2011. Which leads me to...
11. Thee OhSees/Total Control/Paul Cary @ Bug Jar, Rochester, New York.
Ok, i was turned on to the Oh Sees by my pal Richie right about the time peanut Butter Oven was released. Shortly after, the amazing HELP came out and since then I've been preaching curious customers in their direction as best I can. Yes, Dwyer & Co. release an album every few months and they are not always perfect but considering the body of work to excellent quality, thee Oh Sees deserve every accolade they get. The 2011 lp was no slouch at all (both of them!) notwithstanding. Seeing them twice before, by the time this show happened thee Oh Sees had finally caught on way passed the small garage rock set that was the scene they emerged from. A packed house, half traveling from an hour west (that's here) and a body of new fans. My little secret had gone viral. I could have found a million reasons to say i enjoyed the other shows better, but this was the best show i'd seen all year. Adding the awesome Lars Finberg on second drum kit--this band is in peak form, commanding and just a mindfuck of a great performance. Total Control killing it right before (albiet some sound issues) was nearly as potent, but this was thee Oh Sees show and extending jams showcased how "on" this band is. You will NEVER see a show like this in an arena, not even the Town Ballroom. This is how rock and roll was meant to be viewed--and while thee Oh Sees are confined to small clubs, they will probably destroy it every night. My favorite show of the year. Traveling in a car full of cool was just gravy.
11. Brain F = - Sleep Rough - Punk rock with a girl singer. Not my usual cup of tea, but this lady sings/talks in such a unique and effective way (with male vocals responding) while the music is quite raucous, rough and grating. It takes a few listens, I suppose--but probably one of the more unique and killer punk albums in quite some time. the songs become catchy while maintaining a rowdy edginess. The singles are even more raw, but this album flows and evades comparisons.
11. Dayang q-t 50 scooter - nothing non-musical or human lifted my will to live like the $500 scooter i bought myself towards the end of the summer. Never would i have thought i'd end up on two wheels and speed just ain't my thing, but this scooter (which took some heavy vandalism and bad luck) was my favorite toy/vehicle ( i kinda destroyed the rest anyway). I am a lonley scooter nerd and plan an upgrade in 2012. maybe I'll make a friend who has a scooter and we can start a gang. 800 miles in 3 months. farthest trip: Buffalo to Lewiston and back.
11. Homostupids -Strawberry Orange Peach Banana lp
I almost forgot how this is far and away, my favorite Homostupids release since the first single. It's certainly not for everyone, but it's for me, man. Spinning off was Steves'amazing Pleasure Leftists 12" which is 180 degrees of difference--an outstanding Joy Divison-esque fronted by a killer female vocalist. I'm combining both of these releases into one since I wasted one on a stupid scooter! (ok, yer not stupid...but was it necessary??)
11. Sex Church - Growing Over A band we were fortunate enough to have booked and decided to have play in our own dungeon. The vibe, lighting and sound were all perfect that night, too. Those lucky enough in attendence saw a truly great band deliver the goods. meanwhile, since the early singles and subsequent 12" from last year, Sex Church is on a steady incline of improvement. Growing Over is yet another cerebral, post-punk, dreamy psych-guitar (and hooks) and effects driven piece of beauty. It was a pleasure to continue being sold out of them and knowing people had caught on to Sex Church without any (criminally unfair) online hype or chatter.
11. Psandwich - Northern Psych - Ron House is back (Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments) and although we never were able to stock this semi-obscurity due to its lack of availability, i'm not sure i listened to a record more than Northern Psych. The man can not only dance, but still belt it out in a love it or hate it cowl. Not every song is great, but the majority are serious winners. Advice: seek this out or i'm going to drive to Columbus Discount headquarters and grab some for stock.
11. Eddy Current Suppression Ring - So Many Things (double lp singles comp)
Spanning the first single, to scarce early versions of early songs to the different side of ECSR (demons demands among other longer, droning jams that are longer and more hypnotic than their typical lp tracks), this comp is really an essential release to one of Planet Earths greatest bands.
11. GG KING - Esoteric Lore - Almost passed me by, one of two shockers that I discovered in the last weeks of 2011. Ex-Carbona, this surpasses my beloved Carbonas (much different) and anything previously heard from GG King (two good singles). But this is just phenomenal. A dark, punk masterwork? Do i speak too soon as I haven't had 12 months to absorb...all I know is I can't stop listening to it and I apologize for not having stocked this. If there are any left, it is on order. Another is Mikal Cronin (Moonhearts) stunner of a solo album (in stock!) which was sent to me from Buffalo ex-pat (and all around nice guy who works for a distro we like) Matt Byrne. Produced by Ty Segall (and crazy flute by John Dwyer) this is more of a killer pop album with garage rock undercurrents than a garage lp. Some real sweets on this album that truly needs to be heard by garage and indie nerds alike--both will appreciate the talents of Cronin.
11. I'm leaving this slot, the final (even though there is no order here) open to those great albums i just didnt spend enough time with--but i know i will and i know i'm digging them already. Kitchens Floor (their second?) "Look Forward To Nothing", the Men "Leave Home", Pheremoans - "It Still Rankles", Tyvek "fast metabolism" ok--this is a top 11 but i simply ran out of room, and the vast number of crucial reissues or unearthed stuff like the Saints "Eternally Yours", Poison Idea "Darby Crash plus" 2x lp. Also absent is the onslaught of Buffalo bred music i have purposely left off so I can go into depth in a future post. I'm rambling...let's hear from the the others.
Andy Czuba. Another consultant, part time counter jockey and straightenr up of all things unorganized. A solid dude...but they're all solid, or they wouldn't have keys to the place on their keyrings! Also, a wildman in hardcore band the Strangers.
- Encoffination - O Hell, Shine In Thy Whited Sepulchres-
-Trap Them -Darker Handcraft
- Deafheaven - Roads To Judah
- Zola Jesus - Conatus
- DJing for the first time
- Throwing awesome shows for Trap Them, Gaza,
and Weekend Nachos
- Seeing Thou and Wolves In The Throne Room in the
middle of the woods in Vermont
- Rescuing my 3rd cat, Coach Dad
-Rescuing a several week old kitten from the outdoors where it would
have surely died
- Taking up Photography and having photos appear on
records and in magazines
- New job that I actually don't hate
Large event co-ordinator, spiritual guidance, Record Store Day counter princess and all things indie rock consultant--this post would be incomplete without the input of our better half. Remember...behind every sloppy, poorly dressed, immature and disoriented man, theres a ...wait a minute. thats not the saying! Lets just get to the list. as with most of these, there is no particular order.
-Zola Jesus - Conatus
-Wild Flag - s/t
-Vivian Girls - Share The Joy
-Real Estate - Days
- Atlas Sound - Parallax
-Cut Copy - Zonoscope
-St. Vincent - Strange Mercy
-Bon Iver - s/t
-PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
-Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings/Charles Bradley @ Town Ballroom
-Mark Kozelek (solo acoustic) The Mansion House, St. Catherines, Ontario
Chuck Barrels, CEO Terminal-Boredom.com , co-host of Scratch -n-Sniff Radio, musical mastermind, ultimate Scratch consultant and one of the greatest dudes walking earth. A true man's man (whatever that means). His name is actually Richie. Here is his list.
10 RECORDS FROM 2011 YOU SHOULD BUY FROM SPIRAL SCRATCH
(OR MAKE DAVE ORDER FOR YOU IF THEY ARE OUT OF STOCK)
Disclaimers: listed in no particular order; no local bands included so no one is offended; all products were released in the 2011 calendar year.
1) HUMAN EYE “They Came From The Sky” LP (Sacred Bones)– I never thought a band could be as cool as Hawkwind, but then again I never thought a mutant like Timmy Vulgar could exist on this worl either. Best record of 2011, whether MRR wants to covert them or not.
2) FEEDERZ “Ever Felt Like Killing Your Boss?” LP (Broken) – reissued for the second (third?) time, this is one of the most underrated classic punk LPs from a band that also never really got their due. Sick stuff.
3) POSION IDEA “Darby Crash Rides Again” LP (TKO) – the earliest recording of PI, 1981-82 demos and a live radio set from ’83. Fantastic sound considering the source material, great liner notes from Jerry A, gatefold with photos, etc…Pig Champion’s guitar never sounded so primal.
4) TV GHOST “Mass Dream” LP (In the Red) – if you saw them kill at Soundlab, you know what I’m talking about. The A-Side of this might be my favorite sequence of songs all year. Weird and scary and punk.
5) HOMOSTUPIDS “Strawberry Orange Peach Banana” mini-LP (Fashionable Idiots) – AMERICA’S GREATEST BAND unleash another masterpiece. This one is their ‘Dark Side of the Moon’.
TYVEK “Fast Metabolism” LP (M’Ladys) – the LP they should have released a couple years ago finally sees light as it should have been presented. DIY art-punk of the highest caliber.
7) CHEATER SLICKS “Our Food Is Chaos” LP (Almost Ready) – essential early recordings from the masters of misanthropy.
8) SEX CHURCH “Growing Over” LP (Load) – if you were transported to another dimension during their performance in the basement of the Scratch like I was, you should already own this. If you missed it, you should immediately buy the best guitar-psych record of the year.
9) GG KING “Esoteric Lore” LP (SOD/Rob’s House) – ex-Carbonas frontman puts together a schizophrenic KBD/goth/metal classic.
10) Folded Shirt s/t 12" (Fashionable Idiots) – pure genius. That’s all I can say.
Last, but not least is the bearded lothario. The man who defies space and time constraints in the name of rock and roll, screen printing , and just being a great man. He hasn't manned the counter in some time due to his busy schedule, but we hope to have him back as soon as he is able. He also runs the wildy prolific Feral Kid Records with the fruits of his labors, nearly single-handedly giving the Buffalo punk scene a voice on vinyl. Somehow, he found time to make a 2011 retrospective list. Read on...
Wait, there's more to come...a few customers submitted lists! Without their permission, here they are!
Joshua Cerretti posted:
Good Luck 'Without Hesitation'
Office of Future Plans 's/t'
Pygmy Lush 'Old Friends'
Roll the Tanks 'Broke 'til Midnight'
Hawks and Doves 'Year One'
Bridge and Tunnel 'Rebuilding Year'
Star Fucking Hipsters 'From the Dumpster to the Grave'
Elliot Brood 'Days into Years'
Mastodon 'The Hunter'
I think that's 11.
"Uptown" Bobby Ellis, browser and man about town:
Ice Age - 'New Brigade'
Real Estate - 'Days'
Twin Sister - 'In Heaven'
La Sera - 'La Sera'
Total Control - 'Henge Beat'
Destroyer - 'Kaputt'
The Beets - 'Let The Poison Out'
Sea Lions - 'Everything You Always Wanted To Know...'
Thee Oh Sees - 'Carrion Crawler/The Dream'
Pure X - 'Pleasure'
Men - 'Leave Home'
Thank you, everyone, for taking the time to write about the records you loved or the good times had in 2011. If you'd like to contribute a top 11 of '11 list, it's not too late. send us an email at spiral scratch records and we'll post it. In the meantime, we'll do our best to re-stock many of these and keep the best of '12 coming in as we can. remember--you are the shareholders and you keep us alive, no multi-millionaire backing here. but we shall grow in the coming year and keep you supllied with the best music available. you can help letting us know just what that is, too.
part 2 forthcoming.