2012, End of Year Lists



ANGELA SAWYER owns and operates WEIRDO RECORDS, as well as performing in many awesome bands including EXUSAMWA, DUCK THAT, PREGGY PEGGY AND THE LAZY BABYMAKERS + MORE!

Angela Sawyer’s Top Ten 2012
Various Pictures of Sound cd + book
When’s the last time you heard a long, loud rasberry that’s been saved for you for 150 years? Not good enough? How about music that was recorded before the year 1000? Dust to Digital is an esteemed label, but this project by Patrick Feaster is the best thing since records became ‘unbreakable’. Visual representations of sound, most of them from before Edison’s invention of the cylinder, are for the first time turned into sound you can hear. Circa 1850, most attempts at making sound reproducible were focused on writing- lots of them were actually attempts to invent a visual system that would transmit sound vibrations to the deaf. Entrepenurial spirits all over the world tried improving on the staff note system as a way of saving music over time, and they produced lots of drawings (which often look like lie detector or encephalograph results). Those systems/inventions are here made into roughshod whispers or glass harmonica foomping. Turns out, for example, that 18th century mechanical organ instructions look just like midi editors. You get spectrograms of eagles yawping and people talking, long dead folks from Iowa or Russia, buzzing noises, photographs of people blowing through rubber diaphragms onto candle flames, 17th century harpsichord playing turned into player piano rolls, medieval manuscripts, and even some detailed prints of lost early records that have been made audible once more. The cut that reset the date of audio recording’s invention back nearly 20 years, Edouard Leon Scott de Martinville’s ‘Au Clair de la Lune’ from 1860, is also here. For once, the inclusion of a big thick book makes a lot of sense, as you can match up the visuals to each track and you could even try turning them into sound yourself.

New Surfsiders Kokomo/Good Vibrations 7 inch
Dead brilliant doo-wop singing which skewers these beloved songs by being decidedly off-key but right on pitch. If you’ve ever been standing in a line at a shitty pharmacy/convenience store, hearing the Beach Boys ‘Kokomo’ waft over the musak speakers, and hated your life, this is a single that can provide you with all that was missing. A contemporary band, but clearly inspired by one of the all time greats, ‘The Surfsiders Sing the Beach Boys Songbook’ (which may or may not have Lou Reed on it). They also have a Christmas single!

Mark Lindsay/W Michael Lewis Shogun Assassin lp
Mark Lindsay, aka the toothy leader of pirate-costumed 60s band Paul Revere and the Raiders was taking whatever songwriting work he could get by 1980. So when he got offered some extra work on a voice-dubbing project, he became the composer for this kung-fu cheapie. Cut together from 2 Toho studio movies that came out in 1972 (namely ‘Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance’ and ‘Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx’), and redubbed by the director of ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’. Fantastic & spooky bargain basement synths plus lots of talking and squelching noises dropped in.

Various The International Vicious Society Vol VI lp
Dignity is for suckers, but the International Vicious society is for masters! There can never be enough daffy twists, clownish cha chas, dotty hops or wacko watusis for me, so I’m always excited to hear that this series has another entry. Songs long on stupid and more stupid from Frenchytown, Espana, Eetaly, Squishy Belgium, Stinky Peh-roo, and many more other places. Cackling laughs, zero chords.

Billy Childish & Sexton Ming Dung Beetle Rolls Again lp
Grump, anti-art artist, & puerile surrealist Sexton Ming joins his cohort Childish in banging on boxes, injuring ukuleles/chord organs, & humming no-chord singalongs into cassette recorders. Their ability to poke blackhearted fun at defenseless animals, inanimate objects & elderly persons makes them the best duo to be birthed by the UK since Derek & Clive. A fine surprise, as it’s their 1st new album in ten years, and it even includes a Doors & a Beatles cover. Time has only made Ming’s voice wetter & uglier, & it couldn’t be more gorgeous.

Esplendor Geometrico Prehistoric Sounds Necrosis cd + 3×7 inch
Spanish industrial band named after a futurist tract. Finally, after a zillion reissues, someone put out the stuff you’d want most. Unadorned splats of evil & cold whumping, rhythmic metallic clankings, white noise grinding, toothache-causing beeps. Demos sent to the Ata Tak label in Germany. The cut chosen for the compilation ‘Fix Planet’ is close to a song, has vocals & could even be interpreted as some sort of dispirited new wave. Luckily, the rest of the band’s early output quickly deteriorates into nothing but mean feedback splatter.

Meridian Brothers Desesperanza lp
One of the reasons that recent experiments in cumbia revival (like Ondatropica & Frente Cumbiero) have been so juicy & fascinating, as well as straight up good, is because of the aesthetic skill & curiosity of Bogota’s Eblis Alvarez. Here he shows you how it’s done. Wiggling & krazy electronics & chipmunk voices serve up infectious salsa & caliente rhythms. So dizzy & imaginative!

Bob Chance It’s Broken lp
As disarming as it is disturbing, this is truly a perfect white guy come-hither record. If you’re freaky enough. Gloriously inappropriate songwriting verve that recalls both the Beach Boys’ ‘Love You’ & Gary Wilson’s ‘You Think You Really Know Me’. Irrepressibly sincere & vapid backing arrangements that range from innocent doo wop to roller rink disco, with organ & tiny little trebly drums. Bob has very, very hairy knuckles, but he nonetheless croons tenderly about rainbows, brown skin (he likes it… on his ladies… a lot), & gigolos who kidnap girls with pedo-vans.

Wendy Rene After Laughter Comes Tears 2lp
Across town from the Stax studios in Memphis, high school student Mary Frierson & her brother Johnny decided to try out for the label by just taking the bus over & walking in the door. Stax’s Jim Stewart liked Johnny’s songs, but once he heard the funny little downswoop in Mary’s voice (it’s a whole lot like Mary from the Shangri Las!), the label gave her a new name and groomed her for stardom. She got to tour with Rufus Thomas & play on bills with Otis Redding, and the cream of the Stax house band put distorted guitar and supple chunks of organ behind her. After just a few singles she decided to become a mom instead, narrowly missing the plane crash that killed Redding.

Elias Rahbani Mosiac of the Orient lp
The Rahbani brothers built the career of Fairuz from ingenue to Beirut radio star to national treasure. Middle brother Mansour wrote her lyrics and the eldest Assi not only wrote her music but starred opposite her in several movies and became her husband. Youngest brother Elias is here, making the sleek electric organ & ticklish bazouki undulate together in instrumentals. While his brothers dabbled in musicals, plays, & a steady stream of singing protoges, Elias embraced disco sleaze, & writing for languages other than Arabic (he did post-graduate study in France). A selection of what was originally a two volume set, criminally difficult to lay hands on for what was basically marketed as a belly dance record.

honorable mentions: I spent a lot of time this year listening to shock radio and comedy records. Wouldn’t have guessed that would happen, but happen it did. I also wrote lots of liner notes, and so discovered the glories of researching by google translation of foreign language you tube comments.

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