Dan Shea is the singer and songwriter of the NEEDY VISIONS, organizes shows all over The Boston area via B.O.W. Shows & Boston Hassle Shows, and writes for and helps run the Boston Hassle site and Boston Compass newspaper. He also co-runs the fiscally sponsored Boston Hassle organization which has the initial goal of opening up a sustainable legal all ages show space in the Boston area.
I take local to mean music being made within the New England states, the region that we aim to cover most dutifully here at the Hassle and at the Compass. And while my list is certainly Boston area heavy, there were some other New England records that I just could not deny. Enjoy the odd fruits that grow here. Make wine and juice, and baked goods with them.
Dan Shea’s Top Twelve Local Records of 2012(in no particular order):
Bugs And Rats – Get That Fucking Light Out Of My Face
Initially an oversight, but HOW could I forget about this slab of sludge??!! The nastiest, ugliest rock music going in these parts. Proof that the Boston of my youth and further gone yesteryear absolutely still exists, despite almost all of the elevated portions of the T coming down, and the bleaching of Kenmore Sq., and the encroachment of the yuppies and their crocs. I used to buy Nirvana bootlegs from the singer of this band in Quincy at a record store that is only a memory. This makes sense.
DISUNICORPS – Synonymy
Truly the discovery of the year locally for me. Amazingly bizarro pop black metal coming from southern NH and shattering many perceptions I had about what “metal” could be. No doubt purists might hate this, but I am no purist. Purists. Bewildering and brutal, and melodic and IN MY BRAIN.
CUFFS – Private View 7”(Ride The Snake Records)
For a very long time Andrew Churchman has been on the top of the indie pop heap here in Boston, first with his former band Pants Yell! and for the last few years with current group, CUFFS. Only a 7” released this year, but man was it good. The title track here might be the best song I’ve ever heard from this band, absolutely apex power pop. And the guitar playing is so good.
CREATUROS – Swampp Thingg (Primordial Sounds)
2/3rds of the former Doomstar finally gave us the full length we’d been yearning for from them. And it is full of the hooks and garage rock riffage that you have come to expect from this Boston based band of rad dudes. There is also, found here, a great deal more depth in songwriting than we’ve come up against previously. And taken all together it makes for a serious lo-fi dipped psych-pop ride.
EXUSAMWA – Excuse Moi! (100% Breakfast)
A most exciting record full of blasting fringe hardcore, and squeamish psych-folk ballads and synthesizer explorations. This record never rests and offers surprises around each and every corner. Truly one of the most consistently interesting bands working out of Boston nowadays. It’s only available on vinyl though, not even a snippet on the internet! And oh yeah, the gatefold vinyl sleeve doubles as a board game (they give you the dice and a 30+ page instruction manual as well!!)!! Also released the excellent PHASE IV EP this year!
FRKSE – Guilt Surveillance
A rediscovery in 2012 was Boston’s FRKSE. I had fallen out of touch with what he was up to until the middle of this year when I discovered GUILT SURVEILLANCE which was released near the beginning of 2012. Upon listening I was immediately drawn into the clanging industrial sample based sound world that FRKSE was creating. I don’t hear very many in Boston travelling this noisy, glitchy highway, and certainly not with the bleak panache found here. Dark and rhythmic, and weird.
CONTAINER – LP (Spectrum Spools)
A leader in the East Coast underground noise gone underground techno community, CONTAINER’s Ren Schofield (based out of Providence) put out a very sweet record on the awesome SPECTRUM SPOOLS label this year. A record full of party starting beats to be sure, it is also flecked with grit and moments of the squelch from which it emerged. And this last bit is the most important when describing underground artists like CONTAINER who are taking on the non-stop pulse of “dance music”. For it is this approach and perspective that makes the music palatable to a whole new audience, one who it turns out may have been thirsting for a way to get into this zone of music for some time.
WHITE PAGES – 7”
There hasn’t been a garage punk band in Boston that sounded this good, this urgent, for a long time. I love White Pages. They remind me of some of the great Boston bands (Showcase Showdown, August Spies, ETC) that made me love punk in the first place. They rock that line between fuck you and melody real nice. Pogo punk yes. Garage punk yes. Power pop yes. Lots of great punk bands in Boston, but not ones playing this style.
BRAIN KILLER – 3rd 7” (Framework/Vinyl Rites)a
Some of the nastiest, most inventive hardcore I heard this year was blasted into reality right here in Boston, and guilty are the hands of BRAIN KILLER (who I understand are on their way out as a band, which is sad to hear) for this writhing punk assault. Squalls of feedback strewn across d-beat tracks, great riffs, and frantic vocals take this one where it needs to go. Get ready to flip this thing over and over.
GUERILLA TOSS – Jeffrey Johnson (Feeding Tube Records)
An absolutely bleak record from simply one of Boston’s best bands. Post-punk in aesthetic, post-hardcore in its explosiveness, in total : it’s a GUERILLA TOSS record. And their first full length, and !man! is this good. Filled with grooves, and amazing shifts in volume, arrangement, and feel; you have to be excited to see what they do next. Not a record this year that took me to darker places. Sick band in several different ways.
KEITH FULLERTON WHITMAN – Generators (EditionsMego)
Two recordings of the same piece in live settings. Keith Fullerton Whitman is regarded as a master of exploring the boundaries of and all that lies within the realm of the modular synthesizer. Here you have him tackling the same piece twice and moving in differing directions each time, allowing the spectrum of his chosen instrument to be displayed. Beautiful, and noisy, and above all singular sounds from Somerville’s own. KFW also put out another great record this year called Occlusions.
Ryan Power – I Don’t Want To Die (NNA Tapes)
A strange pop journey inside the mind of this Burlington, Vermonter. It’s not pretty stuff when it comes down to it, but the music here often strays into beautiful territory. This is odd music rooted in pop, and eagerly pushing at the boundaries of pop song structure. Smart twisted pop, and I only wish there were more taking this approach to the form. A Vermont sound emerges with this and the efforts of the likes of Blanche Blanche Blanche and Chris Weisman.
Gary War – Jared’s Lot (Spectrum Spools)
I had to add an 11th after I was reminded that GARY WAR, while always being kind of local, is actually living on the North Shore these days, and thus I would be quite remiss in not including his strange and wonderful electro-rock (probably unfair to call it that, as electro-rock sounds so horrendous) odyssey on my list of best local records. In this record you are dealing with an immersive experience that very easily draws you into its sound world. And what an interesting sound world it is with its CHROME-esque guitars and all manner of synthesizer magic.
Other local records that I loved this year:
Camp Hope – Demo 2
Mmoss – Only Children
Speedy Ortiz – Sports EP
Neptune – msg rcvd
No Sir I Won’t – 7”
Black Pus – Pus Mortem
Libyans – split 7” (i guess a 2011 release, but i didn’t hear until 2012)
Hands and Knees – Red Hot Minnow
Herbcraft – Flowering
Bang Bros. – Hard Rocks Vol. 1-18
Pile – Dripping
Hoax – 2nd EP
Debo Band – Debo Band
Blanche Blanche Blanche – Wink With Both Eyes
Chris Corsano – Cut
Bromp Treb – People Skills
Omnivore – s/t
Potty Mouth – Sun Damage
Marissa Nadler – The Sister
VVLTVRE – Hang Me
Jooklo Duo & Bill Nace – Scratch
Banditas – Save The Rats
Skimask – Cute Mutant
CLICK HERE TO READ DAN’S TOP 75 RECORDS OF 2012