The past two months were riddled in indecision. We picked our Top 3 records, had little convinction as to which was truly the greatest release of the month, and treated it like the axiom “one of those good problems”. Maybe the American spirit of voting is coursing through our innards, but October brought us one definitive winner. Number one with a bullet is Mac DeMarco's 2. Flying Lotus returned from distant galaxies reborn a hero with a journey to share, Ty Segall shouted “CHICAGO” until he was horse, Black Moth Super Rainbow returned stronger than ever, Gorgeous Children attempted to scare us into championing their debut, and it all felt so gosh-darn overwhelming. Plenty of temptations were on the table, but Mac won.
He won us over with the screwed-soft rock of Rock And Roll Night Club, but we were late to the party. He won us over in our video interview by pinching his bandmate's junk through his trousers. He won us over at CMJ with between song banter, Danny Brown-esque tongue wagging while strumming out “I'm A Man”, replacing lyrics with “suck my cock”, and drum solos. He wins everytime we jam “I'm A Man”. He wins everytime we start craving a cigarette break at the opening licks of “Ode To Viceroy”. We've been singing his praise all summer with high hopes for 2. We miss the sleazy Elvis bravado of Night Club (have a second go-round, Mac!), but we don't miss the pesky task of tinkering with the pitch levels.
The Best Album of October 2012
Mac DeMarco is the hip-cocked swagger your tenuous collegiate romance has waited to grace late-night in the dorm room. DeMarco’s slow-burn, glam-funk is the dental dam instilling confidence in Western, torrent-savvy campuses. Lo-Fi, sardonic, and hep, Captured Track’s new self-proclaimed “puss” from Montreal gives us his smokey take on what he endearingly calls jizz-jazz fit with a tribute to his favorite floor-tobacco brand, Viceroy. DeMarco is not a golden boy with words or the guitar but the heart-felt hero some of us harbor in our romantic, black-lunged torsos.
The Best Music of October 2012 (in no particular order)
The countdown and wait is over as the “world's best duo” Mondre M.A.N. and Squadda Bambino answer prayers and continue to “Do it For the Bay” where they enlist fellow B'Area soldier DaVinci repping the Fillmore, clutch Bay hitter Shady Blaze, cameos from Gucci, Mon$ta, big time production assists from The Makanix, Rob Lo, Grown Folk, Ammbush, YS, Harry Fraud, Uptown Greg, Supreme Cuts, and so many more to help matters with hypno-horns, cascading organ vibes and more tricks. Listen for the epic closer “Cloud Body” where Mondre and Squadda remind you that the hypnotic flow and dream machine vocals are the “shit that you can trust”. This is the definitive cloud opus.
On UTQC, FlyLo bounces in strong with “All In” like the jolt a body will do as it slips into a deep rest. “Until The Colours Come” is waiting to cross the first threshold, for a hero's journey requires many layers of transcendence and the mastering of two worlds, the first of which begins at “Heave(n)” in the belly of the whale. After many trials, boons, flights and temptresses (embodied by the cast of Badu, Yorke, and Thundercat), the hero returns to the threshold with the power to live free. In listening to UTQC, one could sit with the table of contents open on The Hero With A Thousand Faces and map the progressions. I'm not suggesting that Flying Lotus's record is textbook. The power of following the myth formula is what sustains the record. Through his surrealist records, Flying Lotus is binding us once again to the story that is within our inner being, it just takes the proper tools and an open mind to hear it.
The EP's name is inspired by the Electronic Arts console game, Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf that Fatima played after the Operation Desert Storm aftermath. Tracks like “Ghost Raid” harken back to those 90s CD ROM MechWarrior types of polygonal based PC games that made use of the soundcard of the time to show off both MIDI sequenced and WAV effects samples; games that are now not unlike the un-manned drone approach to current day quagmires.
Ty Segall, Twins (Drag City)
Whether he was screaming “CHICAGO” on WGN, rocking Conan harder than he's ever been rocked, or reminding Spin what it was like to be young, Ty Segall was everywhere with his new record, Twins, this month, and we loved it. Not as crunchy as Melted or narrative as Goodbye Bread, Twins hit some until-now-unknown middle ground that oozed smooth, seductive, and slightly haunted sounds on top of Ty's usual fun-in-the-sun garage-fuzz. Even with such tight production and a big sound, Ty still kept the core of his unkempt flavor, making Twins burst at the seams with feel-good, almost impossibly catchy, and never self-serious tunes. This October, Ty proved: you can't sell out if you're Segall-ing out.
In The Middle of Infinity thrives in dehumanizing environments. Take it on the subway, away from all traces of day light, and you'll feel as though it was made from a room just beyond the tile of the platform or down a secret corridor that only requires you to brave the dark tunnel where a train might await. It's a bleak glimpse into our dystopian future should a nuclear fall out happen that makes the surface unliveable. The hum of generators is in this record. The transmissions to remaining reachable satellites is here. For now, In The Middle of Infinity remains science fiction, but take it to the Lincoln Tunnel during rush hour and the chill of an underground future is within reach.
The occult fascination in rap has its benchmark record. Spaceghostpurrp and his RVIDXR KLVN appropriate the esoteric symbols into their black clothing. Danny Brown and A$AP Rocky stand among it in their videos. To borrow a quote from Bane, Gorgeous Children were born in the shadows.
Moon Duo, Circles (Sacred Bones)
Just like that little pinwheel that spins in front of your eyes, Moon Duo's Circles induces an immediate trance — driven by Sanae Yamada's keyboard organ and Ripley Johnson's soft, faded vocals. But unlike the pair's previous releases, and most of Johnson's Wooden Shjips riffs, it's not all darkness and shadows. “Trails” bumps along like a static-eaten pop song, mellow and sweet, and the record as a whole draws inspiration from the Emersonian vision of nature's perfected symmetry, reflected here in muffled lyrics and constant, concentric churning; steady, soothing and so fucking rad.
The Vallejo MC has been stirring things up from V-town to across the Bay's bridges since his release of Rocky Maivia: Non-Title Match, the Lionhearted EP, the Free Water EP and today we bring you the mixed up Lionhearted II. Get ready for a round of appearances from Erk Tha Jerk, Tanya Morgan, DJ Toure, Fly Commons, Insightful and more Moe.
Dead Luke says it loud – he’s psyched out and he’s proud. Weaving a drone so sweet, Dead Luke is the latest in a modern revival of Sixties-style psychedelia, drained through a filter of fuzz. Released as a cassette, God Takes LSD is even more founded in faded blurs and indiscernible echoes, a knee-deep swamp collection of slow-burning sounds in ye old tradition of druggy tunes.
What Bauer and friends create here is that Bay approach to trad styles that mesh into the collective experiences of the musicans, their experiences, talents that take the classic, rootsier tropes into late night songs best reserved for rooftop, after-show gatherings under the misty skies.
Tom Fec with what many are calling the 'realest' BMSR album to date is an excercise in aggression “Window Smasher”, “Gangs in the Garden” and the beautiful moments of redemptive confessional like “Spraypaint”. Without a doubt, a contender for one of the year's best discs.
What the prior EP Equatorial Ultravox pointed at was the possibility of taking the blueprints of “Shell Suite” as album concept, i.e. “Fall 4 U” featuring Cameron Mesirow and Hugo Manuel sharing a commuter's confessional duet of love and lament like carpoolers expressing mutual feelings for one another “while everyone is moving somewhere new” in an 1987 Honda Accord Aerodeck on the M40 motorway.
Kill Or Be Killed, just in the name walks that fine line of glorification and exploitation, but Shady and Deniro are not seeking the delinquent, nihilist path of Chief Keef. “Kill On Sight” is over the top, thanks to an epic production from Oswin SM, but with the help of ST 2 Lettaz and a syrupy Ryan Hemsworth beat on “43 Hours” Deniro and Shady wade through the moral ground of hustling. Blaze brings along his Main Attrakionz homies for “All The Way” and “Fallen Soldiers”, along with plenty of Ova-beatmakers like Nem270, Friendzone, and Keyboard Kid. It's easy to get caught up in name dropping the friends Deniro and Shady invite into Kill Or Be Killed, but this is a defining record for both artists. Despite only making acquaintance on Skype video chats, the two rappers discovered a wealth of common ground in street philosophies, relationship woes, and seeking a better life than the ones they came from.
Across the EP Tony Castles are flexing chops. “One Tone Man” is bountiful in afro-bop, while “Heart In The Pipes” is like feel-good Fleetwood fed through synthesizers. “Korea” whimpers into a motorik that leads to pop rocks explosions courtesy of drummer Gabriel Wurzel, who parted with the band after recording the EP. And if you're still looking for a song to soundtrack your undecided days in an election year, simply look to “Senators” and strike up a dialogue about Elephants eating Donkeys being totally messed up.
Take the song “Who Needs Who”, written by producer/banjo player Marshall LaCount about his increasingly distant relationship with vocalist Nona Marie Invie. Invie portrays these problems with grace and honesty, acknowledging with her soft, yet strong voice that the band has reached a fork in the road – unsure on whether to dwell on the past or look towards the future. Although the song is about moving forward, the band's success with this track makes it clear that both roads are worth taking.
Entertain yourself with this comp featuring appearances from Mistah F.A.B., IamSu!, Roach Gigz, DaVinci, Shady Blaze, Zumbi and more getting paired up with producer SMKA and performing dream collaborations you won't hear anywhere else.
Kimani and Tarik (2/3 of the original Masterminds) can't keep away from this rap shit. For 10 years they assimilated into society, living quiet lives without green room blunt smoke, crowds of hoodie-wearing underground heads with demos in their pouches, and groupies that were girlfriends of the dudes in hoodies. Masterminds return with Giant Antlers. Consider the group an elusive buck, the ultimate survivor that dwells deep in the forest in the thickest of brush, and is rarely seen. This is your first glimpse in 10-years to see how their antlers have grown.
Field Mouse, How Do You Know (Lefse)
Rachel Brown whispers her breathy vocals as if awakening from sleep while Andrew Futral controls the field gazing guitars a cover of the Twin Peaks theme, “Falling” originally sung by Julee Cruise on the B-side.
So as I live out my small visions of music journo, I feel grateful that I can tell you about Jeffrey Lewis and “The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song”. He seems like the sort of fellow who knows about being too sheepish for the big risks, but takes comfort in the little quirks of life that will happen just by being there. You don't always have to be the mack, but have enough courage to whimper out “Leonard Cohen” and good things will come.
Yoodoo Park gives you the sounds of the summer in Santa Cruz you always wanted or the one you wished you had after getting sick at the Boardwalk or perhaps those lysergic wasted afternoons of frying out in the quad on the squiggle before retreating to that place of solace in the forest.
This is the dude's night out single for bros to whine about existential issues of relationships and religion while sharing a comfort in the lonely lyrics of the Reed/Richman sort, harnessed through some of that good ol' DIY, Tennessee punk.
In case you missed the memo, Eluvium's Matthew Cooper is Martin Eden who brings us synthetic symphonies like “Short Cut” where drum machines rattle in time against each other while keyboards turn spindle wheels to create audio silk.
Soft Moon, Zeros (Captured Tracks)
On this outting, Luis Vasquez unleashes tracks like “Insides” that take you through the bowels and innards of what we imagine to be some giant, metallic insect. Vasquez takes the musical pathways of those dark-grave-wavy 80s keyboard and guitar tones into his own temple of doom.
In the age where tags fly around with friviloty for next generation hip-hop experimentation, producer/emcee Damon Johnson describes the phenomenon as “the movement of the earth-space-tree elements” that contribute to our current state of independent affairs. Sampling Beach House's “10 Mile Stereo (Cough Syrup Remix)”, Johnson takes things the extra mile beneath the waves from his sea weed habitat where the trees roast beneath the crust of the earth's coast.
Tamaryn, Tender New Signs (Mexican Summer)
Tam takes it back to that inbetween sound when the future 90s Brit-poppers were still wearing baggy shirts, proto-grunge hair, and guitars buzz sawing from the sleep lands of nod were the order of the day and even now.
Get ready to party like with the most authentic 1972 in 2012 glam you have heard all year. Meghan Remy with fellow Calico Corp label founder/artist Slim Twig create early 70s Bell Records/RAK sounding pop. Take for example the pure gold struck when taking on an obscuro cover called “Jack”, known from a demo recording circa '04 from Danava, written in 1991 by Brock Robinson inspired by a dream where he was Jack the Ripper. In short, Meg and Slim turn it into a new kind of monster of beauty.
Somewhere between the flood of releases, singles and side projects from Jon Bernson and Tim Cohen comes an album crafted in collaborative osmosis that presents music from the unconscious from the creative individuals that rule your life between Fresh & Onlys, Exray's and all the bands the two produce in between.
Samuel “Babydude” Yager has been honing his craft as Birthdays for more than two years now, which is an appropriate length of time to prepare—and now drop—a self-titled album. And it's safe to say the culmination of his efforts is nothing short of exceptional. With a heightening of recording quality over previous releases (recorded by Kevin Kenkel and mastered by J. Mendicino), Yager's Birthdays project is given room to breathe between the droned out synth layers and the bombastic dance moments. I'm even reluctant to use the word “drone” so there's no mistaking Birthdays for anything other than what it is: an uplifting party jam that playfully rests on the shoulders of your favorite 4/4 beats.
The embodiment of hip-hop and jazz and soul here feels pure in its samples, in their flow, their swaggered cadence, in their obvious appreciation of music as a life force, and their respect for traditions that long outdate them without sacrificing a contemporary attitude and sound; it's all amazing, however brief. The longest track on the EP, and its last, “Cabin Fever Sweet Love” is recorded live and it ends on these vocal drop offs that are just bare and jaw dropping.
For “American Jukeball” Every cannonballed his cup of lean with two rails of white lady. What once was a post-emo, late 90's indie debut from American Football is now something far different and far less emo.