Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2011...these all go to '11

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...

Caitlin Hogan-Lazar
part-time employee, (sub)culture expert, soon to be "worlds greatest mom" and Spiral Scratch interior designer/organizer.

Best Album: Davila 666 - Tan Bajo
tie: Puerto Rico Flowers - s/t

Best 7": Diarrhea Planet - Aloha

Best reissue: John Spencer Blues Explosion - Now I Got Worry

Best song: Brain Flannel - Hand's in the Jar

Best show: New Pornographers @ Town Ballroom

Best new drummer in Plates: Jordan N.

Best cover song: Fatal Figures - Combination Pizza Hut Taco Bell (das racist)

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

Crystal Castles
Big Eyes

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.

Top Albums

-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
live shows
-Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings/Charles Bradley @ Town Ballroom
-Mark Kozelek (solo acoustic) The Mansion House, St. Catherines, Ontario

Chuck Barrels, CEO , 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.



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...

Top 11 of '11

Any moron who makes blanket statements saying that no good music comes out anymore is CLEARLY not paying attention or listening to the right records. This year was insane!!!! There are far too many good records, and I won't cheapen any of them by attempting to put a numerical order to these. My top 11 records will be listed in alphabetical order and are my favorite 11 records of any format that came out this year.

The Beach Boys - SMiLE LP Capitol Records
I'm not gonna spend too much time bothering to talk about this one. What could some chump like me say that hasn't already been said about this record? The sticker on the shrink wrap of SMiLE refers to it as "The Most Anticipated Record In Rock 'N' Roll History". It's the shelved recordings that were to be the followup to Pet Sounds in 1967. What else really needs to be said? I can understand someone's skepticism, but It's actually quite good and a lot darker at times than people seem to think The Beach Boys are capable of. After hearing this record I can certainly see why the recording of it led to some mental breakdowns for Mr. Wilson, or maybe it was that pesky kid next door….who knows? Either way; dark, goofy, catchy, beautiful record.

Brazilian Nuggets Volume 1; Back From the Jungle LP Groovie Records
I am an absolute sucker for compilations such as these. This is the first of a three volume set which i cannot WAIT for the next two to become available. Every aspect of this LP rules; from the killer artwork, to the full color photos in the gatefold, to (most importantly) the music contained within the grooves! The archaeologists at Groovie Records have exhumed a cavalcade of hits here. It spans a pretty diverse realm of tunes from the '60s and '70s in Brazil. Dingy garage gems are intertwined with weirdo psych influenced jams and bizarre rock 'n' roll type tracks which WOULD be some very anthemic songs if they weren't cursed with their obscurity due to the oppressive regime of Brazil at the time. Anyways, this comp rules. Pick it up if you dig any aspect of garage rock, psychedelia, pre-punk weirdness, or have an interest in world music.

Davila 666 - Tan Bajo LP In The Red Records
I had been hearing good things about this band for a while now and snoozed on them for far too long. The snooze button was intentionally hit once again though even after hearing the praise of this LP. I just couldn't get past the godawful cover art of this one. It's terrible! It truly looks like nothing I would ever want to hear. All of that, however, melts away once you actually hear the record. These songs are incredible and will be stuck in your head like the worst radio pop songs….the difference is that these songs are actually GOOD! Be prepared to possibly seem culturally insensitive as you WILL be singing these songs at high volume in the shower even though they may not be in your native tongue. Hopefully any Puerto Ricans within earshot will understand the sheer power of these poppy garage rock gems and not be offended by your poor spanish; misinterpreted and sung at high decibels.

Dead Language - s/t LP Iron Lung Records
This behemoth record has received a good amount of hype since its release, and with good fucking reason! It's unreal! The angriest hardcore record I've heard in a long fucking time! There is NO reason for anyone reading this to not have this record. I mean, come on, its IRON LUNG with local madman Dave Bailey (Gas Chamber, Solutions, Cages….) on bass with the dude from No Comment singing and also has dudes from Walls and Pig Heart Transplant doing other things (not entirely sure who did what so i don't wanna give the wrong info).

Death Trap - No Hicks EP Feral Kid Records / Warm Bath Label
Alright, I recognize that it may seem a bit screwy that i am putting a record that I released on my Top Records of the Year List. Egomaniacal, huh? Well I don't care! It's THAT GOOD! This record has been in the making since 1984 and only saw the light of day this year (even though the labels on the record say it came out in 2010, it did not). This record deserves ANY sort of excitement that it creates. Death Trap is the missing link between KBD punk and 80's hardcore. How in the world this had gone 27 years without seeing the light of day is the most monumental travesty that I can think of. Having been listening to these songs very regularly for the last number of years while we worked out the specifics of the release, I can honestly say that they do not get old or lose their edge. Truly the best kept secret in punk! Buy this record and bow down to the mighty Death Trap!!

Group Flex - Flexi 7" Compilation Castle Face Records
In 2011 aesthetics cannot be overstated. We live in a time where people don't think they need to buy records because the music is instantly available at their fingertips without spending a cent. Well my friends, this comp is a perfect example of how to break people away from that mindset. It's BEAUTIFUL! This is a steno bound book containing 5 flexi 7"s (and one record pressed on cardboard, yikes) each with a different band on them and cool artwork. You turn to the flexi you want to listen to, put the book on your turntable, and play the whole damn thing! AND it actually sounds really good. This is truly a work of art. Bands include; Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall & Mikal Cronin, The Fresh & Onlys, Barb Wires, and Blasted Canyons and the whole thing is very listenable. Super catchy and memorable tunes by most of the bands.

Human Eye - They Came From The Sky LP Sacred Bones Records
Human Eye is another band that I had seen live before being aware of their recorded output. After seeing them for the first time a few years ago, and taking the time necessary to pick my jaw off the floor, I was eventually able to slowly make my way over to the merch table and somehow formulate the words necessary to explain that I wanted to purchase anything they had for sale, though it was probably just a lot of grunting and pointing. Human Eye's records up till now are good, don't get me wrong, but I've always felt that there was something missing. Whatever the hell it was, they FOUND it on this LP. It's INSANE! I don't even know how to begin to review it, its just plain bonkers! To fully experience Human Eye, I must insist that you go out and see them, but this record is the closest that i think they will ever get to capturing the intensity of their live show.
Lieutenant - s/t LP Art of the Underground / Warm Bath Label / Peterwalkee Records
Roughly seven years ago I was lucky enough to see this bands beginnings at their first Buffalo, NY appearance. It was pretty awesome then, and in 2011 when they played again it was mind-blowing! This LP has been talked about around the area here for a very long time and now that it has finally seen the light of the day I couldn't be happier. Four of the heaviest hitting dudes in the local area really upped the ante with this record. Pissed off fast hardcore punk with killer riffs, heavy drums, and demented vocals. Oh, and that pretty bass outro, FUCK! WELL worth the insanely long wait!

Organized Sports - "i'm So Proud of Him" LP Bulkhead Records / HIV Town Records
This year i was not only lucky enough to get into this band, but was blessed with seeing them in three different cities; Cleveland, Buffalo, and their hometown Portland, OR. From the first night seeing them i was floored! This is my kinda hardcore, pissed off from start to finish, and incredibly sincere. Super entertaining live, and the record does not disappoint. There is no bullshit on this LP whatsoever. If you like old sounding, pissed off hardcore-punk, you HAFTA like this band.

Rational Animals - Bock Rock Parade LP Katorga Works Records
Rochester, NY's unwanted bastard child returns with their third release to date, this time with their debut LP - Bock Rock Parade. I am a very biased man when it comes to this band, having put out all of their releases up to this point, but i had nothing to do with any aspect of this record. I can't help but WISH that i did though. It rules so damn hard! The riffs have gotten a bit more complex from the first two EP's and at times almost seem like they could be the song playing as you ride on a carousel. Even with the circus riffs though, the grit on the solos and the anger and desperation coming through on the vocals make this one downright disturbing record. I challenge you to be in a good mood while listening to this, and i mean all of that in the best possible way.

Shoppers - Silver Year LP Feeble Minds / Dugged Conscience
This has been one incredible year for western and central NY bands putting out killer records. Shoppers "Silver Year" LP is no exception to that statement. I've seen this band a handful of times over the last few years, and watching them progress to this has been awesome. Silver Year is a masterpiece. This record is really dark and disturbing in musical and lyrical content. When i got it on cassette before the LP came out, I couldn't stop listening to it. I just let it play over and over and over again feeling that there was still more to grasp from it. I feel like there should be more said about it, but STILL am not able to adequately put it into words. I love this band, and this record. They're becoming a touring machine, so do yourself a favor and find a way to catch them.

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'
Scorpios 's/t'
Mastodon 'The Hunter'
Samiam 'Trips'.
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.



5:39 a.m.

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