2013 Year Enders

Some Top LPs from 2013 Culled from Bands I’ve Seen Live, Played with, or Booked at Flywheel by Mike Barrett


FLYWHEEL is an amazing and long running art & performance space located in Easthampton, MA. If you have been a part of New England’s underground music and art culture for any amount of time you’ve probably played or seen some kind of performance at this very open-minded space. Mike Barrett is Flywheel’s rental coordinator, Gallery Committee and booker. He also performs as noise act Belltonesuicide.

Here are some top LPs from 2013 from me, culled from bands I’ve seen live, played with or booked at Flywheel:

Ultra BideDNA vs DNA-c” (Alternative Tentacles)

1st new LP since 1996 from long running Japanese punk band. Main man Hide’ is pushing past 50, but has turned out the most ferocious record in the bands history with Alternative Tentacles. Amazing dual bass guitar work on the LP, no 6 strings invited. Hide’ and 2nd bassist Maki switch back and forth between rhythm and lead parts seamlessly. This is frantic space age prog punk. The kind of high brow mayhem us stateside neck-beards expect from Japanese imports.

Nagual Nagual (Ergot Records)

I met these dudes at an Amherst house show I jumped onto in early summer ’12. I quickly became friends with the duo of Dave and Ian. I don’t think I can count the how much I’ve seen Ian and Dave play together and solo over the past two and a half years. After a considerable output of cassettes, both in quality and quantity, Nagual released their first proper LP this past fall. Deep ambient guitar work in the Budd/Eno/Fripp tradition. Not one to sleep on.

BBJrTearjerker” (self-released)

Not sure if this is a 2013 release or not, but it was new to me. I met Bob Brucko Jr in Troy this past December on tour from Iowa with ARU. The A-side opens with some serious free jazz howl, a few short tracks of sax and drums, real toe tappers. Tearjerker quickly devolves into a mishmash of tape collage, vocal collage and electronic noise. Toss in a couple of lengthy psychedelic guitar jams on the flip side and you have a succinct survey of the breadth of BBJr’s creative ouvre.

Bastard Noise/ Brutal TruthThe Axiom Of Post-Humanity” (Relapse)

Ballsy move to release this record in two formats with totally different material on each version. Those that procure both will not be let down. BN blasts full force on these recordings, a duo of Barnes and Wood. I have no idea how long its been since Barnes has shown up on a BN release. The CD material is all electronic material. Classic BN, with signature high production. The LP features Wood’s harrowed howl. Not one to ever give up the ghost, that man has stayed angry since the 80’s, and will tell you all about it. Brutal Truth push their boundaries with two different mixes of one long jammer, “Control Room”. It’s true NYC power electronics, dense, slow and harsh. Two of my longest running favorites together at last!

ARUDub Plate Vol. 3.5” (Captcha Records)

I’ve been CDR swapping with ARU’s Randy Carter since Myspace’s long forgotten heyday. Had to make it a point to catch him live on his first East Coast tour since 2008, and def grab his first proper LP. hard to put a convenient label on what excatly it is that Randy is up to, but I’ll try: Dubby Glitch Step Electro Noise. ARU lifts a lot, stylistically, from Muslimgauze. Then run that through the internal filter of someone that totally devoured the Shock Out and Tigerbeat catalogs.

HausuTotal” (Hardly Art)

This Oregon power house quintet is just not getting the attention they deserve. I set up two gigs for them at the Flywheel this year, in April and again in October. Each time their sets were intense. After seeing them live, this LP seems like a rough sketch. In October, after a summer on the road, this band came back tighter, leaner and meaner. songs like “Chrysanthemum” absolutely burned. Not to say this record isn’t great. Just pick it up, and when you see the band live, you will be leveled.

Diagram: A – “Your Object” (Open Mouth)

Greenwood’s coup de grace. Two solid LPs of some of the best noise Diagram: A has ever done. He’s not bashful about thi, either. if you need to be told, Greenwood is one of the most inventive of the noise electronics builders active today. His creations defy logic, embrace chaos are easily playable and incredibly personal. I’m a gear nerd, so I see this album as much as an exposition of engineering as a piece of sonic art. Again, Diagram: A has had a banner year of high quality and plentiful cassette releases, Your Object is the icing on the cake.

Insect Ark – “Long Arms” (Geweih Ritual)

This is a weird one, for sure. Solo lap steel doom electro. Dana Schehcter has spent some time in Bee & Flower as well as Angels of Light. This project, however, moves into darker and heavier realms, art-metal for art-metal’s sake. There are some moments on here where Soundtracks for the Blind-era SWANS percolate through, that sort of bastardized, storm-on-the-horizon take on Americana. Live, the lap steel is a ripper. On record, the whole piece is tightly controlled, cinematic and atmospheric. The lap steel is such a culturally loaded instrument, which could bear a much longer discussion than we have space for here. Dana deftly pulls that familiar twang into an unexpected context, but keeping it recognizable enough to be comfortably folkloric.

Honorable Mentions: The collected works of Erik Brown: Wish For Skin, Streiber, Scald Hymn, and Love Is The Law Tapes; Colorguard and Elm City Recordings; Lidless Eye; Wolf Eyes for pissing off “the scene;” Black Steel Peacock/Ry Ry of Tokyo and of course Noise Nomads. I still need to pick up Ernest Thrasher.

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