doesn't take long to dig R4B member Brian Miller's 'best of
2003' list. Filled with a fine mixture of recognizable names and
deliciously obscure CDR releases, it reads like a Graham Greene
short story but contains double the content. You wouldn't be blamed
for printing this out as shopping list and heading out into the world to
track down each record.
Favorite Releases of 2003
(no particular order)
Alarmist Self-titled CDR (Self-released)
It's almost lost saying something vulgar, "Free jazz meets goth."
Yeah, seems like it should be awful, right? But by keeping it minimal
(just guitar and drums, and male/female vocals), and keeping it rude
("Hope you try... suicide!", "This evil will make your
house fall down") they have created a completely unique yet engaging
sound. The live show is just as good.
The Locust Plague Soundscapes (Anti)
Everyone at least thinks they know what this is. To me its a band putting
rare good use to major label funding. They used the bucks to not have to
work for a bit and wrote some of the most complex, blistering rock songs,
that abandon the typical sound of guitars as much as possible. Yeah, it
isn't the anything goes noisefest of their early years, but I'm much more
Schneider TM 6 Peace ep CD (Mute)
Electronic folk music. Very similar to the amazing Wio (from
Belgium). He writes beautiful pop songs and then glitches them out. It is
a simple formula, but it is done with a poetic sense that would work using
any approach. He also uses hyper-modern/technological lyrics that aren't
as heavy handedly "new wave" as say Interpol.
Themselves The No Music CD/2xLP (Anticon
- released Sept 2002, I'm a late bloomer)
Another hyper-modern, almost sci-fiish band. I asked Rob of Hale Zukas why
there isn't any hiphop music exploring epic/krautrockish song structures.
He said there is, Themselves. At points this does just come across
as that typical California style of underground smile hiphop (à la Blackalicious),
but at their best they are doing things so strange that even my most
"open minded" of friends have called it "impenetrable."
Doris Henson White Elephant CD (Pacific
Solid indie rock w/ imagination is far from dead. With a wit that is
as nasty yet hilarious as Talking Heads or Pavement, Doris
Henson rock it just as hard as the Pixies ever did. But DH
has a brass section to bring it to epic heights.
Black Eyes untitled CD/LP (Dischord)
It's true, this album doesn't do the live show justice. But then again,
every live show is so different, maybe it isn't possible. Live I've seen
them range from brutal, primal, rhythmic noise to lush, reverbed out Miles
Davis fusion era. The album version is the rock pop version. The core
of it all. And that core is what makes it worth while. Everyone in Rose
For Bohdan listened to this a few times every day on our US tour.
Celesteville Vast and Sad CDR (Tape
Supposedly a single from the upcoming Celesteville album,
"Vast and Sad" is, appropriately, one of his most sad and moving
songs. This CDR contains a few live versions, including a 30 min one done
at a crusty punk show. Mind you, Celesteville is indie folk. The
audience is heckling him the entire time. And Celesteville keeps
fucking with them, going into long, moaning laments, to drive the audience
bonkers. At one point the audience starts chanting "YOU SUCK!"
and Celestevile starts playing along in time to the chant! It is
magnificent. Nothing phases Celesteville. He knows what he does is
amazing and nothing can stop him from doing it.
Tres Quatro 1 12" (Nothing
Gets Worse Than This)
Impossible rhythm on top of impossible rhythm. The random static from
a broken radio, played along with PERFECTLY on a live drum kit and live
guitar, and then an electronic drum beat programmed to it later that still
fits PERFECTLY. This band is magic.
Various Artists Closet Full of Clothes 12" (White
Folk music, beat music, noise music, and avant rock music. One comp. Hey,
it has Black Eyes on it sounding as raw as their live show! You got
to hear for yourself.
Hale Zukas 3"CDR (Self-released)
Like a Krautrock version of Flipper. Their songs have strange timings,
long epic song structures, and yet never become prog because they insist
upon being raw and crusty. What puts them over the top is a real love for
world music and folk music. It makes them sound wooden and organic,
instead of cold like steel.
Campfire Songs (aka Animal Collective) Campfire Songs
CD (Catsup Plate)
Many nights I let myself fall to sleep with this on. Recorded live on the
porch of a cabin in the woods, you get to hear the rainfall and the
acoustic guitars. They play like ghosts. If you try to listen closely, you
hear nothing at all. But not for a lack of playing. The strumming is fast
and the chants are plentiful. But like the wind instead of a bigrig.
Favorite Show: My
Little Red Toe and Rainbow
Blanket at Casa del Peublo
One band had just finished highschool, the other is still working on it.
But they tour, play often at home (Los Angeles) and meet any avant rock
bands head to head for song writing, live performance, and enthusiasm. Los
Angeles is becoming more and more full of musical miracles like this.
That's why I live here
Favorite Album Cover: Wiese and Koh Scrubby Bubby
12" (Helicopter) (art by Saiman Chow) [see
Handscreened. Otherwise, yes, see it for yourself.