Sam Potrykus is a co-founder of Boston Hassle and creator and executive editor of the Boston Compass newspaper. Sam also lives and takes dear care of his JP home The Whitehaus. He loves shows, and it shows.
As we blast forward into a new year, here are my most listened to records of 2013. No particular order or anything like that, just the 10 records I listened to most last year. They were good to me, I hope you enjoy them too!
CROSSS – Obsidian Spectre (Telephone Explosion, 2013)
Pure dark rock grooves from Halifax, NS. CROSSS deliver honest rock and roll jams whose individual elements each bring something distinct to the table, and in an eerily complimentary way. Their moody, memorable melodies will haunt you long after their killer sludge tones and ghoulish vocals pull your guts out through your ears. Crosss’ super heavy feel and bare bones set up just does it for me. It’s pure. They stand out in a sea of trios. Get hooked on the Crosss. Most listened to just after sundown.
STREET GNAR – Shrine EP (Atelier Ciseaux, 2013)
Undoubtedly one of my favorite musical projects of recent past, Lexington KY’s Street Gnar released a sweet slab of vinyl last year and it completely lives up to the legend of his first few tapes that’ve been floating around the country since 2011 and 2012. It’s pleasant, vibey synth pop but even more meditative than most. On nearly every release he wields guitars, keyboards, loops and vocals with reckless abandon and the results are always delightful. His latest, The Shrine EP, is a little more hi-fi and just as transcendental as ever, taking you to that special place you don’t get to often enough. That place where you can just chill the fuck out for a second. Most listened to while driving around Boston moving furniture.
HERBCRAFT – The Astral Body Electric (Woodsist, 2013)
Hercraft OMs from Portland, ME and their oceanic, languid licks are magic enough to transport you there with one listen. With such organic and patient instrumentation you can almost imagine this collection of sounds occurring naturally, at the edge of a forest, engaging the choppy breeze off the sea and making it accessible to the visitor. This gorgeous, minimal pulse is brought to you by nature. But really it’s just a few far out people making blissful, droney trance-enducing music with bass, drums, guitars, organ, loops and tape manipulation. A wonderful auditory experience from the warm womb of New England. Most listened to while passin’ out at night.
MAMMANE SANI ET SON ORGUE – La Musique Electronique du Niger (Sahel Sounds, 2013)
Vibe on the outstanding minimal drum machine/organ experimentations of Mammane Sani Abdullaye. This recently uncovered material, largely electronic renditions of traditional Nigerien music, was recorded in 1978 and is apparently Mammane’s first and only album. It’s original release was a small run of cassettes designed to showcase modern Niger music but the project, organized by the Minister of Culture, did not succeed as planned. So until this past year these holy, hypnotic recordings went almost entirely unheard. The positive pulse of La Musique Electronique du Niger has the magic ability to inspire productivity as well as relaxation. There’s a beautiful balance between meandering melodies and deliberate repetition, all of which are totally blissed out and realized so simply, with just a drum beat and some keys. Let these extraordinary, droney jams help you set a calmer pace in your day, like yoga for your ears. Most listened to while concentrating on stuff.
SOLID ATTITUDE – BB Gun Picnic (Rotted Tooth, 2012)
One of my lists latest discoveries, Solid Attitude makes me want to smash a bottle over someone’s head. Not just because their gnarly groove-laden punk inspires such an aggressive, violent action but because my frustration about discovering this record a year after it’s release sometimes gets the best of me. The fierce Iowa City foursome are still at it, releasing a sick single last year, but BB Gun Picnic is the full dose of their raw, rock and roll fury. The tunes are truly memorable, undeniable punk hooks and spacious melodic moments alike, evoking the grit and attitude of The Stooges (which isn’t easy to do right). It’s not surprising that such an exceptional record was released by Rotted Tooth. In fact, my tardiness to find Solid Attitude has made me realize that I should pay attention to every Rotted Tooth release from now on. And you should too, that is, if you like a diverse mix of nasty, rock and roll. Most listened to on the way to shows, getting pumped.
BLANCHE BLANCHE BLANCHE – Wink With Both Eyes (Night People, 2012)
Blanche Blanche Blanche is outsider pop gone mesmerizing. Originally based in Brattleboro, VT, now in Brooklyn, BBB have been on my radar for some time and with much respect. Their special brand of pop, often utilizing strange, atonal elements has been captured on several releases over the years but Wink WIth Both Eyes is the one that really hooked me. I still cant get over it actually, it’s been haunting me ever since my first listen and has continued unfolding ever since, much like the band itself. Their work ethic, recording technique and consistently stellar songs are impressive enough but when you discover that hard-to-explain mystery of BBB, their music becomes all that more rewarding. It feels good and is fun to listen to but is also challenging and super engaging, what more do you want out of your pop music? Also I think there’s some adhesive or something on the center label cause each side gets stuck on my turntable for days at a time, watch out for that. Most listened to, period.
GUERILLA TOSS – Gay Disco (NNA, 2013)
This here’s an easy one. It’s easy to be proud of a Boston band who tours relentlessly and is well received wherever they go (except maybe Cleveland). It’s easy to follow a band who is constantly pushing their musical boundaries with each composition and performance. It’s easy to imagine such a band’s latest record being their best yet. Gay Disco may be that for Guerilla Toss (hard to compare with Kicked Back In The Crypt) but it’s definitely their most accessible material to date. Their music is every bit the high energy, effected-funk and weird-rock horse pill it’s always been but on Gay Disco it’s crushed and cut finely into easy-to-rail lines for the masses. Despite the official release show being this week this record was officially released via NNA last December, I know because I went to every G Toss show in Fall hoping they’d arrived already. Gay Disco is a noisy groove demon with deep, dark concepts and all the scary tones to match. Most listened to late at night, driving around Boston looking for trouble.
PC Worship – Beat Punk (New Images, 2013)
These mutants always make my year end list. Besides thoroughly blowing me away every time I saw them in 2013, Brooklyn’s PC Worship shit out Beat Punk last year and few records made me feel better about being a degenerate rock fan. It is chaotic noise molded into sludgy rock and roll grooves, nasty hooks and such a fuck you, go-find-out-for-yourself attitude that you know what? fuck it, go find out for yourself.
LIL UGLY MANE – Mista Thug Isolation (Self-Released/LP by Hundebiss Records, 2012)
Richmond, VA’s Lil Ugly Mane is fully in charge. He’s behind the wheel of the sick beats, he’s in the back seat making a purple haze with a pound blunt of f/x and he’s riding shotgun spitting hilarious vulgarity out the window at suckas. Each track is a drive-by and he’s playin’ every position. Gansta shit. Huge hip-hop beats, larger than life lyrics and rhymes that remain in yer brain. He really is a clever mother fucker and clearly a super talented producer. He brings the interesting, wacked out sounds to the track and if you’re like me, you live for that. He’s got all sorts of good shit on his bandcamp, as recent as August 2013, but for some reason this 2012 offering had it’s grip on me last year. The latest word I heard is that Ugly Mane is focusing on producing these days but the ignant genius of Mista Thug Isolation will not soon be forgotten. Most listened to in da whip.
THE MALLARD — Finding Meaning In Deference (Castleface, 2013)
This gang of hazy San Fransisco rockers take you on a long walk down a seemingly familiar path of lo-fi garage rock and 70’s punk. Which is totally cool. But when everything starts vibrating, feeling slighlty askew and eventually spinning out of control you realize that this is something else. This is The Mallard . Their sweetly melodic tunes come with stirring vocals, haunting harmonies and deranged motorik tangents that give you a wholly unique eeriness that poppy lo-fi garage doesnt usually deliver. These dudes melted us all into a puddle at the Video Underground last year and this, their 2nd and final record, is a testament to that trance-enducing, beautiful and bent out of shape garage rock we fell in love with. The Mallard will be missed! Most listened to while distributing the Compass.