It is almost May, which means we are officially 33.33% finished with the 2013 calendar year. If it seems like this year is flying by, it might be because A) time flies when yr having fun, and B) it’s easy to have fun when amazing records seem to be coming out on a regular basis.
With 4 months in the books, I figured I would try to point you in the direction of albums that have been in constant rotation at the Contramanhousehold (Contrapartment actually, but whatever). Get on these records NOW and your 2013 will be better for it. I don’t really believe in ranked lists, so this list is in alphabetical order.
Important Note: This is a pretty much “rock-only” list. There’s a bunch of experimental stuff I have been jamming to this year, but I figured that you tune into Contramandatum for rock, not ambient tunes.
Black Bug – Reflecting the Light (Hozac): this is a quick-hitting, dark, synth-punk album originally from Sweden, but now residing in Bordeaux, France. Black Bug put out a stellar 7″ on Hozac back in 2011 (the B-Side, Police Helicopters appears on this LP), so I was excited to hear their debut. Hozac has been more than a little hit and miss as of late, but this LP does not disappoint. Fans of Teledrome, the Spits and Total Control would do well to check this one out. (stream here)
Black Pus – All My Relations (Load): Is it ok to like Black Pus way more than Lightning Bolt? Is that allowed? I was introduced to Brian Chippendale’s solo project at a Boredom’s show back in 2007, and at that time Black Pus definitely felt like a side project. The tunes on his first 4 CDRs were rough and noisy (even measured up against Lightning Bolt), and sounded improvised for long stretches. 2008′s incredible BP4: All Aboard the Magic Pus was skronky, chaotic and fast. At its finest moments, All My Relations takes that album’s visceral, insane energy and channels it into what appears to be something resembling song structures. This record is head and shoulders above 2011′s b-side collection, Primordial Pus, and stands up to anything Chippendale has released previously, Lightning Bolt or otherwise. Drums, drums, drums. (video for “1000 Years” is here)
Exhaustion – Future Eaters (Aarght!!!): this is a post-punk dirge from members of Ooga Boogas, Deaf Wish and other fine Australia rock outfits. I am beginning to think that the entire Aussie garage-rock scene is 20 people that play in 6-11 bands apiece. ANYWAYS, this album sounds kind of like a surf 45 played at 33 through broken speakers, which (contrary to what you might think) is a high compliment coming from me. The first press of this gem is already sold out, but the band’s Bandcamp page assures us that a re-press is coming out very soon. Get on that ASAP. (stream here)
G. Green – USA Don’t Run (self-released): 2012′s Crap Culture was a surprise entrant into last year’s top-10, so I have been keeping close tabs on Sacramento/Oakland’s G. Green. Their follow-up record does not disappoint. The speed has increased on most of their tracks, but the longer songs slow down for long enough to light the California sun shine through. This is some A+ grungy garage music right here. Last I heard the band was looking for a label to put this record out on, so maybe we’ll see a physical release before the year’s end. I’d provide a link to the Bandcamp page, but they appear to have taken the record offline. I’ll take that as a good sign and will begin looking out for an LP to grip. (stream for 2012′s Crap Culture)
Jacco Gardner – Cabinet of Curiosities (Trouble In Mind): I should say that I generally don’t go for albums that describe themselves as “Baroque Pop.” I am not that artsy or fartsy. THAT BEING SAID, this record is full of psych-pop gems. Everyone currently listening to that new Foxygen record needs to stop and start listening to this record instead. Better writing, better production, better songs, better everything. Stick “Clear the Air” on your summer playlist and thank me later. This is some sunny, dreamy, psychedelic stuff right here. (links to streams here)
The GO – Fiesta (Burger): Do you like Nuggets compilations? Yes? Good! The GO probably agree with you. This album feels like the lost album of an unknown nuggets psych-garage outfit. Despite Fiesta’s 20 songs stretching out over an insane 78 minute, this album never really feels like it’s dragging. I’m not sure how you write a 78 minute album without filler, but the GO have certainly made a good run at it. This album won’t win any awards for originality (it is a very straightforward Nuggets-pastiche), but it does what it does with gusto and great skill. (stream here)
Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Daze (Matador): This got BNM’d by Pitchfork. Pretty sure that absolves me of having to say anything about it. It is very good and I like it.
The Mandates -The Mandates (Mammoth Cave): If Mammoth Cave ever releases a record that I don’t love, I might die of shock. This is hooky power-pop done right. The Mandates don’t re-invent the wheel, but they will fit nicely in between your Marked Men, Gentleman Jesse and Barreracudas records. (stream here)
PMMA – PMMA (self-release): this is a STRONG demo release from one of Calgary’s newer bands. Taking cues from synth-punk and hardcore, this demo is dirty and aggressive from start to finish. This is one of those cassette demos that reminds you why you bought a tape deck at a garage sale. (stream here)
Peach Kelli Pop – Peach Kelli Pop II (Burger): this is the second self-titled release from Allie Hanlon, Canadian ex-pat and erstwhile White Wire. While technically released in mid-December, I am counting for the purposes of this list. These songs push the adorable sweetness-levels to the edge of their tolerability without ever seeming overly-saccharine. Surfy, doo-wop inspired goodness that sounds like it was recorded with Fischer-Price tape recorder. It’s almost summer. Buy this and play it loud until the ground re-freezes. (stream here)
Purling Hiss – Water On Mars (Drag City): crunchy and hazy, this album almost feels like the album that I wished the Men had released instead of the disaster that was New Moon. This is the cleanest sounding Purling Hiss record to date (it’s probably the most accessible too). This is shredding, psych-pop at its finest, grip immediately. For a better review, and some streaming tracks, check here)
Spray Paint – Spray Paint (S.S.): this might be the album of the year so far. Hailing from Austin, Spray Paint’s self-titled debut (they have two previously released 7″s, but this appears to be their first full-length record) calls to mind last year’s outstanding releases from Tyvek and Lamps. This is some ambitious, noisy psych-punk rock right here. The album is mostly short, compact gut-punches that show an inventiveness and complexity not shown by most of their contemporaries. The one notable exception to the “short/sweet” trend of the record is the outstanding “Lap Swimming”, a song that I am not nearly good enough at writing to try to explain. A stream of “Lap Swimming” can be found here and should be listened to immediately. The LP is limited to 500 hand-painted copies, so move quickly to grip this. (purchase the record here)
Steve Adamyk Band – Third (Dirtnap): I LOVE STEVE ADAMYK BAND. No, seriously. These guys rip. Third is, unsurprisingly, the third full-length release from Ottawa’s power-pop masters. There are some moments that lag on this record, but when firing on all cylinders it produces tunes that will be stuck in your head for weeks. Finest of the bunch is “Had a Heartattack,” a song I spent 3 hours listening to on an uninterrupted loop. (Stream here)
White Fence – Cyclops Reap (Castle Face): this is the trippiest LP on this list, which speaks volumes. I was introduced to White Fence (Tim Presley) through his excellent 2012 collaboration with Ty Segall, Hair. This takes all of the sunbeam infused psych of that LP and strips it down to the bare essentials: sunny rhythm, steady drums, and hazy vocals that are perpetually interrupted by tics and abstract freakouts. A+ psych right here.
Zebrassieres – I Am Human (P-Trash): New Zebrassieres? Uh, yes. Yes please. Pretty please with sugar on top. Building on their excellent 2011 EP, Black Brainwaves, Zebrassieres with driving organ-based power-pop that brings Devo and (somehow in my warped brain) the B-52′s to mind. Fans of the FunFuns (the predecessors to Zebrassieres) will enjoy this fast and hooky LP immensely. (Stream here)
THERE YOU HAVE IT. Fifteen records that should get your summer started off on the right foot. Need more? Check out the new LPs from Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Bitter Fictions, Useless Eaters, Kvelertak and Ice Age (Honourable Mentions!).
Got any faves I forgot? Let me know in the comments or on twitter @Contramandave