This is my list of favorites from the year. It’s not restricted to items that just came out in 2012. It’s a list of favorite media that I consumed within 2012. Click on the links to see or hear or buy.
This year, I’ve added a mixcloud sampler of the following items. The great thing about Mixcloud is that the artists get paid royalties from the playing of their tracks. So here’s it is, Scott Colburn’s Best of 2012 mix.
Jane Jane Pollock – Self Titled
Simply my favorite record this year. This is a strange little band from a small town in Georgia that lives in a tiny trailer. Actually they are quite large band (6 members) with a large sound. I love their vocal harmonies and their general stage aesthetic. My favorite cut is “Punching Jackie”.
A companion piece to this record is the “Yard Sale” cassette that features many of the tracks from this record in a live or demo form. Particularly appealing are these busking recordings that capture an energy and a light that is transcendent. And let us not forget the “Dirty Covers Stained Sheets” cassette that is a collection of covers, as you might guess.
Black Dice – Mr. Impossible
WOW! is all I could say when I heard this the first time. I’ve seen Black Dice a couple times and was always impressed with their live show. They played here in Seattle this year and stayed at my house and gave me this record as a gift. I think on the 4th listen I thought to myself, “These guys are the new Residents! I must hear everything they’ve done!”. I proceeded to do just that within a few weeks. I feel bad that I came in sooooo late, but sometimes that’s what it takes. What I like about this record is how weird it is, yet how danceable, hummable and well, poppy it is. Listen to Pinball Wizard, the first track and you’ll see what I mean.
Several years ago, I had a great conversation with Eric Copeland, backstage at some club and I asked him what genre he thought his music fell into. He simply laughed and said, “It’s reggae music”. The next night I watched him perform with that in mind and it was true! He also said that Black Dice was reggae music. This is a further stretch, but I can hear it.
What is most interesting about Black Dice is that all of their recordings are interesting. I mean that that you really can’t tell what the sounds are but they sound cool. Another chance meeting with Eric revealed that when they record, the mantra is, “it’s not fucked enough”. This is soooo true! and I’m glad that it is an aesthetic. More people would do well to push the sonic boundaries a bit.
The buying spree produced a bevy of cool recordings, but the highlights, if interested, were “Repo”, “Chocolate Cherry” 7″ and “Load Blown”.
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Meat and Bone
I’m not trying to out hipster you, but I’ve been a fan of Jon Spencer since Pussy Galore’s “Feel Good About Your Body”. Do you own a copy of “Reverse Willie Horton”? What I’m saying is that I LOVE this band AND they are one of the few bands that understand that they are in Show Business! They are simply phenomenal to see live. So much energy. It’s been multiple years since a JSBX album has seen the light of day. Almost to the point of thinking it would never happen, but it did and it is like they never took a break. Raw, two guitar power trio at it’s finest. A post punk punk band that still has a sense of humour and rocks like no tomorrow. My favorite cut is “Bag of Bones” and “Boot Cut” sounds like a classic Chrome song at the beginning.
Amon Tobin – Box Set
OK, I’ve been an Amon Tobin fan for long time too. Not from the beginning, but at least from 1999 when this band Ota Prota walked into the studio and handed me “Bricolage” and Tricky – “Maxinquaye” and said, “We want to sound like this!”. When I got the announcement about this box, I got super excited until I saw the price. Then I got bummed, then I looked at what was on it. I crave the odd cuts and the lost tracks and the early experiments. How can you go wrong with a 6 x 10″ vinyl, 7 x CD, 2 x DVD set! The answer is, “you can’t”. Box Set Purchased! Mind Blown! Many Favorite cuts but “Trickstep” is a good place to start, but a deep cut is the “Spy vs Spy vs Spy” which is an ambient soundtrack piece that clocks in at 24 minutes. This box set is long sold out, but the ISAM live DVD came out as a separate product. If you missed ISAM this last time around, watch this DVD and become a fan.
Two Fingers – Stunt Rhythms
While were at it, Amon’s alter entity: Two Fingers put out an excellent deep house record called “Stunt Rhythms”. He was really on a role this year. It’s a 3 x LP set. It’s just beautiful and reasonably priced. Check out “Stripe Rhythm”.
Havohej – Purple Cloak
While visiting my friend Ian in NY one day, he played a record for me called “Black Perversion”. It was intense, insane and totally cheap. It was almost as if the guitar was sampled into a Casio SK-1 and played that way. I loved it and sought it out. Fast forward about 10 years and I’m in Amoeba in SF and see a NEW Havohej. It’s stunning. Best of List 2010. And the shit keeps flowing. This is a solo project of a member of Profanatica. I prefer this solo project because it is WAY more avant garde than any other Black Metal artist. This was issued this year but is demos from 1994.
ZZ Top – La Futura
Do I need to tell you anything about ZZ Top? This came out of nowhere and I’m glad it did. It’s classic ZZ Top sound. Rick Rubin produced and totally proves what a bad ass guitar player Billy Gibbons is.
Marilyn Manson – Born Villain
Here’s another one that just came out of the woodwork. When you thought he’d quit doing music, this pops up. Again, classic Manson sound with the weirdest vocal effect I’ve heard in a long time. I simply love his voice and vocal style. This record really makes it apparent that he is a big Bowie fan. The video for this record is very weird and psychedelic.
Vensaire – Vensaire
While in NY this summer recording this band’s first full length, they played the mixes of this EP for me. I was already excited about this band and the material I was recording in the moment, but my jaw dropped when I heard this and I suggested they release this immediately as a introduction to the band before the LP comes out. Do you like the Animal Collective at all? I do. This will appeal to you if your answer is yes. Check out “Apollonian”. I am always looking for something that doesn’t fit into the standard mold. This does it! Interesting combination of sounds and samples, killer vocals, great pop melodies and the nicest people you can imagine! Vensaire are a colorful, positive band. Wait till you hear the LP!
Prince Rama – Top Ten Hits of the End of The World
Prince Rama always seems to get on my Best of the Year list and this is no exception. Yeah! I recorded it. So what? This record is a concept record that is put together like a mix tape where Prince Rama covers their favorite bands tracks for the best mix (and the best juice!) for the end of the world. These girls fabricated 10 bands in song and photos. It doesn’t hurt that this record really works like a Prince Rama record too. Each cut has the Prince Rama flair, but is diverse as well. I think an award should be given for best concept and execution in a pop format.
More Recommended Listening:
Saint Vitus – Lillie F-65
Masaki Batoh – Brain Pulse Music
Public Image Limited – This Is
Can – The Lost Tapes
Blut Aus Nord – 777 The De Sanctification
Ulver – Childhood’s End
Captain Beefheart – Bat Chain Puller
Insane Clown Posse – The Mighty Death Pop
Locrian – Dort Ist Der Weg
Sonic Youth – The Eternal
Bill Nelson – Quit Dreaming and Get on the Beam
Sparks – Kimono My House
Excellent review of the PonyHomie album in City Arts
‘Remable’ by PonyHomie
December 31, 2012 | by Jonathan Zwickel
The first record you need to hear this year is by a band you’ve never heard of. Remable, by Seattle trio PonyHomie, is a lovably schizoid electro-pop excursion that’s equal parts bubbly and brooding.
PonyHomie has existed off and on since 2009 but didn’t get serious until 2011. That year the band sent a demo to uber-engineer Scott Colburn—a.k.a. the man who recorded Animal Collective’s best stuff and the Arcade Fire in a Québécois church. Colburn added a deft touch, working with the band mostly on drums and vocal overdubs. With his guiding ear, PonyHomie birthed a full, fulfilling debut.
The foundation of PonyHomie’s sound is a Nord G2X modular synthesizer, an out-of-production piece of technology that serves as both muse and musical Swiss army knife to bandleader Brandon Feist. The Nord is thoroughly electronic and astoundingly versatile, able to emulate a string or horn section or refract a single human voice into multiple octaves so it sounds like a full choir. This machine can play music on its own with the press of a button, but Feist has figured out how to exploit its more human potential. Its sonics fill Remable like liquid plastic, all soft, melting contours jelled into a high gloss.
With the Nord as its primary engine, PonyHomie has little use for guitars, so there isn’t much guitar on the album. Ramon Salumbides plays electric bass or bows an upright, yielding a warm, woody sound as comforting as the Nord’s silvery buzz is alien. Mike West’s drums percolate in unpredictable ways, circling the melody rather than pushing it forward.
Despite the trifling band name and album art, PonyHomie traffics in a sort of radiant gloom. And Remable gives good reason to dance the spastic pogo and/or aloof sway endemic to Goth Night at the disco (see especially “Super Hang Loose” and “Nothing Good”). Feist works a poignant vocal tone, though he’s occasionally mixed too aggressively; on “Garbage Trucks” and “Hot Weapon” he slides from yearning to yelping. But when vocals, rhythm, synth and songwriting come together, the result is undeniably compelling.
The best example of essential PonyHomie—and the album’s emotional high point—is “I Was Asleep.” After a percussive, off-kilter-electro intro, Feist’s voice enters heartwrenched and measured, singing about death or departure: “And down the road you will be known by your first and last names/And you’ll be told that you are gold, through and through, down to the bone.” A Nord-made horn riff braids around digital filigree, West’s drums punch and veer, Salumbides’ bowed bass sounds regal and funereal. Towards the end, a discernable organ line wafts through as the final minute (of almost six) lifts into ecstasy.
There are similar pinnacles throughout Remable, small moments exploded into panoramic proportions. PonyHomie is unafraid to play out a song to maximize groove and drama.
If the band has proximal brethren in 2013, it’s ambitious psych-poppers Stephanie; if they have ancestry, it’s Aqueduct, Dave Terry’s nigh-genius synth-pop project from the mid-’00s. But for the most part, Seattle bands don’t sound like PonyHomie. Now’s a good time to welcome something new.
PonyHomie celebrates the release of Remable at Chop Suey on Jan. 4, 2013.