by Scott Sugiuchi
Scott is Head Honcho and myopically opinionated taste-maker at Hidden Volume Tru-Fidelity Records.
This year was a great year for new music despite the grumblings of many people about the death of music or whatever. This is just part of what I was listening to this year so it doesn’t include reissues, anthologies, etc. (because let’s face it, that Brazilian Nuggets Vol. 3 on Groovie Records was a-mazing and I still haven’t gotten Back From The Grave Vols 9 and 10). This is all NEW stuff.
TOP 5 ALBUMS
The Neumans: S/T (Screaming Apple)
I can’t say enough about this record. 5 Angeleno kids creating a massive mix of the Seeds and every dead end garage band you’ve never heard. This record actually gains momentum over the course of the album and by Side 2 it becomes unstoppable and never lets up. There’s fuzz, there’s organ and they don’t stray from the script at all. Refreshingly narrow-minded. The only drawback is that it doesn’t come with a digital download so I can’t play it in my car. I might be tempted to put my battery-operated turntable on the passenger seat though. It’s that good. Fave song: “Dark Are The Shadows"
The Above: Waterbury Street (Teen Sound)
Fantastic mod/garage release from this Brooklyn quartet. A meticulously-constructed sound that approximates the best of early Who and Kinks but with singer David Horowitz’s uncanny, almost Colin Blunstone-esque vocals. Throw in some killer Beach Boys harmonies and you have one of the most listenable records of the year. I couldn’t play this enough. And they pull it off live too. Fave track: “The Prisoner"
The Ar-Kaics: The Ar-Kaics (Windian)
Yes, I know them. Yes, I put out a single by them but damn, this is a good record! They push the line between obscure caveman garage primitivism, girl group song structures and a VU obsession—at least if every song was based on Lou Reed’s “Do The Ostrich”. And even though they tout an obscuro-60s fixation (faux 45 labels on the back of the sleeve, perfect lo-fi atmospherics) the songs never feel like a pastiche. There’s a certain weirdness that happens at some point in every tune that takes it some place unexpected. Admittedly this LP took a few listens to get into (esp following their excellent demo from 2012). But I’m firmly in the Love Camp now. Fave track: “No No No"
The Budos Band: Burnt Offering (Daptone)
Where did this come from? I have previous records by this band and they’ve all been in this badass 70s funk instrumental mode but this one came out of nowhere. I’ve heard it described as “Stoner Funk” which I guess is a good lazy shortcut. A slightly less lazy description would be: Imagine the Bar-Kays filtered through fuzz pedals, choruses of horns and organ and scoring the climax to every 70s Kung Fu movie and you get the idea. Impeccable Daptone “shitty” production only makes this record soar. Fave track: “Aphasia"
Cozy: Button by Button (HoZac)
Incredibly fun record from this Minneapolis quartet. While some bands like Guida borrow liberally from 70s glam acts like Slade and The Hammersmith Gorillas, Cozy’s take on glam is more like a Bay City Roller fetish. Good time rock and roll whose focus is wearing denim (a lot of it, vests, bellbottoms) and scoring in the back seat of a Plymouth Duster. Fave track: “Pure Lady”
THE REST (in no particular order):
Mattson 2: Agar (Um Yeah Arts)
The Concussions: Break Up With (Double Crown)
Blair Alise & The Bombshells: For My Darlin’
Nick Waterhouse: Holly (Innovative Leisure)
The Ugly Beats: Brand New Day (Get Hip)
The GTVs: Sh’Bang (Teen Sound)
The Mad Doctors: Snake Oil Superscience (King Pizza)
Gino & The Goons: Shake It (Black Gladiator/Slovenly)
Graham Day & The Forefathers: Good Things (Own Up)
The Soundcarriers: Entropicalia (Ghost Box)
The Satelliters: More of The Satelliters (Dionysus)
Steve Adamyk Band: Dial Tone (Dirtnap)
Sloan: Commonwealth (Yep Rock)
Ty Segall: Manipulator (Drag City)
Army Navy: The Wilderness Inside (Roll Call)
St. Paul & The Broken Bones: Half The City (Single Lock)
The Safes: Record Heat (O'Brothers)
Some really excellent records of all stripes represented here from straight garage to indie punk to power pop. It’s kinda hard to narrow down but Blackwolf Beach wins for best song title “The Ballad of El Dude Bro” and Gorilla (“Maryanne”) for most amazing approximation of '70s power pop by clearly non-English speakers.
Michael Lynch “She’s On Her Way” (Market Square)
The Idle Gossip “On My Way” (Fandango)
Muck & The Mires “Double White Line” (King Yum)
Graham Day & The Forefathers “Love Me Lies” (State)
The Ar-Kaics “Why Should I?” (Windian)
Paul Messis “Nightmares” (13 O’Clock)
Gorilla “Maryanne” (Three Dimensional)
Black Wolf Beach: S/T EP
Myracle Brah: The Peach EP
Terry & Louie “(I’m) Lookin’ For a Heart” (Tuff Break)
Monster Museum: Safety Dances
Great Dismal Swamis “Phantom Tollbooth” (RZO)
Jake Starr & The Delicious Fullness “Yummy!” (Fandango)
Missing Monuments “Too Many People” EP (Various)
Sick Thoughts "Fat Kid with a Ten Inch" EP (Black Gladiator)