2010: Doug Mosurock
“It’s the end of a fucked up year!
I love these records and think you might as well. I’ve spilled enough words on them here and elsewhere. I feel the same about all the records mentioned here. If you trust me, trust these:
• Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest (4AD)
The fabulous Love Cry Want album – Larry Young in concert with some younger passengers, trying to heat-shrink the Nixon White House from a vantage point on the Mall – was repressed this year by the Weird Forest label, whose reach must not go overlooked; from Emeralds’ finest tape moment (Allegory of Allergies) to the mess of that Lil B album to this, they certainly cast one of the widest nets on vinyl this year. A good bit more introspective but massive all the same, Dug Out’s reissue of Dadawah’s Peace and Love saw us staring down the red-eyed chalice vibes from a London/Kingston dub dungeon mindmeld, and brings about one of my favorite things about music: namely, the ability to channel up-all-night delirium to the well-rested. It’s a sensation that is worth experiencing but not worth living.
In a far more desperate dimension, we were fortunate enough to get hold of some excavated material from the Ohio proto-punk mindtrust. Mike Rep’s deluxe run of his Stupor Hiatus retrospective on Siltbreeze, Columbus Discount’s release of Ron House’s early material, Blind Boy in the Backseat, and the fanclub pressing of some of Jim Shepard’s final recordings (V-3 Next Album) all cast a much-deserved light on some of the Rust Belt’s most vital singer-songwriters, each with their own style, but similar in ways that reflect upon their environment. Likewise, some praise must be lumped upon Harry Howes’ Last Laugh imprint, which offered up exact repros of micro-pressing KBD punk singles by The Eat, the Normals, Joe Hebert Band, Freestone, and The Fingers, among others – all pioneers in one way or another, using a death-ray to warp minds of the future.
More of an issue than a reissue (and what a pressing issue it is, figuratively and literally), 2010 finally saw the release of long-shelved material by Richmond’s Dynamic Truths, a long-forgotten project of Bob Schick (Honor Role, Coral) and David Jones (Fudge) entitled Understanding is Overrated (Little Black Cloud). A tense, masterful indie rock record, it is a fine companion to The Young album, which all but saved indie rock from a bunch of computer ads, and should be a welcome addition to any home. If the 250 copies pressed have not sold out yet, there’s really no justice.
Last but not least, Kill Shaman’s deluxe reissue of The Moles’ Untune the Sky needs to be mentioned. It’s without question a highlight of early ’90s indie pop, and can now be experienced with all of its attendant singles and comp tracks attached.
The debut album by Mount Carmel (Siltbreeze) sounded as if it could have been made in 1970, so stern and austere are its vibes, so seamlessly it integrates with the conversation of blues rock and proto-metal, not as a tool of bombast, but one of pure expression and a narrowed yet universal language. This is rock music, all others must fall in line behind. File between your Free records, if you have any – if not, get out of my sight.
The challenge to extend 1960s psychedelia to modern times was met on both sides, between the tumultuous, coriander-spiked virtuosity of Voice of the Seven Thunders on their self-titled album (Holy Mountain) and by longtime favorites Dungen, who have transcended the trappings of earlier efforts with a beautiful album, Skit I Allt (Mexican Summer). It’s my hope that these two will conjoin to erase the memory of that hideous Tame Impala album. If they don’t get there in time, Philadelphia’s Purling Hiss – heard first late last year on a blinder of a full-length on Permanent, and twice this year (via Hissteria on Richie Records, and Public Service Announcement on Woodsist) will be there to kick dirt in their eye, both with big steel-toe boots and Birkenstocks.
On the synthetic side of things, we saw a very nice series of vinyl-only reissues (Dark Day, Those Attractive Magnets, Zwischenfall, Second Decay, and others) from the Dark Entries imprint, but for me, very little in this realm came close to the self-titled album by Automelodi (Wierd), a Francophonic run through the dark corners of the Pet Shop Boys and Pulp catalogues, with enough inventiveness and style to make it sound exciting every time I dropped the needle. Bands that try to sound somewhat different on every song are usually a risky proposition, but Automelodi have the songwriting chops to keep it all glued together.
Geoff Barrow of Portishead masterminded two throwback-sounding, sample-oriented projects to great success. Ugly Side of Love by Malachai (Domino) busted through recycled ’60s sunshine pop and acid guitar riffs, merging the two for some intensely sharp, dark, and memorable moments. Meanwhile, in a hotel room somewhere, Barrow’s BEAK> project met up with German vocalist Anika to maker her self-titled debut (on Stones Throw) and cranked out the dub version of Kleenex performing folk protest songs that the world had been waiting for since the late ’70s.
Oh, speaking of throwbacks, The Fall made a new record. Your Future Our Clutter. It was great, check it out.
There were some bigguns this year for sure, but at year’s end, these were my highlights. Cruising by Pittsburgh band Slices, on the Iron Lung label, managed to succeed at the difficult trick of combining the ferocity of hardcore punk with the lumberyard grooves and ugliness of the noise rock that chronologically followed hardcore, without giving into either side. Yet another Pittsburgh group, Brown Angel (which features occasional Dusted correspondent Adam MacGregor), unleashed their dormant full-length debut on the Thunderhaus imprint. Mothballed for five years or so, the group has reactivated, and the withering, Godflesh-like intensity of their recording possesses an even greater power, which will only grow as the Earth becomes an even direr place to live. Once that’s all over and we have to survive “Road Warrior” style, we can look back at the furious motorcrust of Aporia, by Oakland, CA’s Acephalix (Prank) as a harbinger of the bleak, dust-choked lives we left behind. Of course, if things point another way – if sci-fi novelists have their say, and we are instead dealing with hot zones, rampant and lush wilderness, and giant, mutated lifeforms, for example – we can say that the self-titled debut by Zond (R.I.P. Society), an Australian biomass of deadly and deafening proportions that successfully bridged shoegaze and black metal, pointed the way towards our action-packed doom. Still, we may choose to forget all of this terror and instead ride to the end with traditions intact, and there was no better way to shake loose of the modern dilemma than by listening to Raleigh hardcore scene vets Double Negative, whose Daydreamnation presented a chrome-plated tangle of blood clots and broken strings, throttling all comers and leaving destroyed homes and broken leases in their wake.
As far as live heaviness goes, nothing was more disturbing or intense than Swans, and nothing was louder than Torche. Also, you should really think about attending Chaos in Tejas.
What little jazz entered my purview this year certainly did its best to peel my cap and make me rethink my stance toward the genre. It certainly helps when its participants bust madly against the walls of convention. Chora, a British improvisational outfit, certainly carried its weight on the album Ruined Parabola (Chironex), an organic and orgiastic spiritual. Jørgen Teller and the Blank Stares, a Danish guitar trio, shredded large on their Live Arrogant LP (Mastermind), recalling the sort of damage done by Caspar Brötzmann in the early ’90s. On a more peaceful kick, bassist Joshua Abrams infused vibrant life and joyous expression into his earthy, groovin’ Eremite debut Natural Information, an album that stands proudly next to Don Cherry’s Brown Rice in terms of its impact. Great as these were, they found an equal, if not a rival, in duo performances by Cecil Taylor and Tony Oxley, captured on the double-album Ailanthus/Altissima (Bilateral Dimensions of 2 Root Songs) (Triple Point), a live session from the Village Vanguard that I deeply regret missing, and some of the best work by either to date. Finally, for a strict and punishing display of percussive heft, you should direct yourself to the Man Forever LP on St. Ives, a mindscrambler of endurance and intensity crafted by Oneida’s Kid Millions.
Regional Spotlight: Olympia, WA
2010 releases by Olympia, Washington bands Gun Outfit, White Boss, HPP, Milk Music, Bone Sickness, Broken Water, Son Skull and Christian Mistress were all loved over here (and I really enjoyed White Boss and Son Skull live, too). People with musical ability, drive and vision, and a town cheap enough for them all to get by, is as inspiring now as it’s ever been, and these bands stepped up hard this year to rep for their community. May they continue to succeed, and inspire others to do likewise. Runners up to regional bliss would be found in Vancouver, BC (Defektors, Sex Church) and all across the province of Alberta (Myelin Sheaths, Radians, Famines, Outdoor Miners).
For me, 2010 begins and ends with Piranha 3D. But the middle belongs to I’m Still Here: The Lost Years of Joaquin Phoenix.
I’d like to thank Ma Grizz, Andrew Earles, Monty Buckles, Ronnie Seward and Molly Lambert for inspiring me this year. I’d also like to acknowledge Gerard Cosloy and Timmy Hefner for being cool, and Michael Berdan for sailin’ on.
By Doug Mosurock