Sam Potrykus plays in the NEEDY VISIONS and AYKROYD, organizes shows all over the Boston area via Bodies Of Water Shows & Boston Hassle Shows, writes for and helps run the Boston Hassle website and founded the Boston Counter Cultural 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.
HANK WOOD AND THE HAMMERHEADS – Go Home (Toxic State)
Hank Wood and the Hammerheads are dastardly catchy garage-punk fury featuring damaged organ and auxiliary percussion, sounds good right? If I could say anyone one record was my favorite of 2012 it was this one. Impossibly addictive songs like “It’s hard on the street” and “I Don’t Play Games” will have you plotting around your hood like it ain’t so bad all of the sudden. Hank Wood paints a pretty dismal picture of what it’s like to battle everyday life in NYC but over their driving, herky-jerky grooves and with the kind of menacing snarl that makes you actually want a taste for yourself, no matter how nasty. These dudes kill it all over the noxious noise spectrum, from in your face loathsome vocal outrage to icky noise interludes, they got that overall grit that just wont quit. The best part of it all is that Hank Wood and The Hammerheads represent that true blue New York hardcore fuck you attitude but aren’t afraid to shake up the formula a little. Like it says on the insert: “I Live in a terrible place that does horrible things to awful people – Welcome to NYC 2012”. They positively slay anthemic 2 minutes jams like it’s their job then turn around and drone your ass into oblivion with trashcan drums and seering guitar feedback. After supposedly breaking up in September I caught these guys at the Elks lodge in December alongside Shawnie, Luke, Demay and all the other weird-hungry punks who have their ear to the ground round here. Might have been the best show I’ve ever been to. If you want to be scared silly by furious, unrelenting garage punk mastery get GO HOME and die happy. BUY IT on Discogs or cheaper from Luke E – [email protected]
MAC DEMARCO – Rock And Roll Night Club (Captured Tracks)
Rock And Roll Night Club makes you feel naughty. Naughty. Like in the best way possible. You’re carefree, you want to be bad and you’re gonna be, even if no one is watchin’. Could be the subtle layer of sleaze over the woozy coked-out heart beat backbone, funky low end thump and sopping wet guitar jabs struttin’ behind the beat but I think that sometimes it just simply feels dirty to like a tune so much. I mean, he’s got pretty outstanding songs, like “Baby’s Wearin Blue Jeans” and “I’m A Man” that’ll just kill ya. It’s dance music but it is so wonderfully dark and subdued that it could be your soundtrack to some intimate sexy-pal time or just as easily be bumping in a club at max capacity. Not sure if enough of you folks in Boston have caught on yet but Mac Demarco is making some serious waves out there and it makes sense because he’s been on fire for the past 12 months. The Montreal native has actually been putting out top pop jammage pretty consistently as Makeout Videotape since 2009 until signing with Brooklyn’s Captured Tracks this past year. If Rock and Roll Night Club is any indication this guy has got a dark side we all could use a little more of. Gonna get down with him for real when he comes to town next month, be sure of that.
SKIMASK – CUTE MUTANT (Sophmore Lounge/100% Breakfast/Infinity Cat)
It’s no secret that SKIMASK are my bros, but that has nothing to do with the fact that their debut LP ‘Cute Mutant’ is one of my favorite records to squeak out of 2012. Oh no, it is much more complicated than that. It started where all the best shit does really, in the basement, pummeling the good people of our city with gnarlified grooviness and making everyone a believer that one of the sickest groups ever could in fact come right outta Boston. And finally there is a tangible testament to that notion. Cute Mutant was highly anticipated even before it was fully conceived by the parties involved, and for good reason. Between their killer teasers of tour and split release tracks, legendarily electrifying live shows and then sudden mysterious aloofness there isn’t a sole among us who heard the lore of Skimask without at least raising an eyebrow. Well, I’m here to tell you folks that their first long playing record actually manages to trump the hype the band has espoused. It does just what it should, represent them perfectly. The way they satisfy everyone’s basic urge to get down with their no-bullshit rock and roll onslaught but still manage to blow you’re goddamn head off the most powerful, unconventional, “why didn’t I think of that” instrumentation you’ve ever seen. Insanely catchy and simplistic vocal-noise riffage backed up their by smaht ass concepts actually worth grasping and the only kind of drumming that could keep up with it all, groove laden punk. Captured by noisecore colonist Doug Demay of the seminal Boston spazz punk band FAT DAY it is no surprise that Skimask’s debut record is everything that it fucking should be. Way to go boys, I look forward to watching you take over the world for Boston.
BUY IT AND STREAM IT: WEIRDO RECORDS/100% Breakfast, Sophmore Lounge Records or Infinity Cat
BLACK PUS – Pus Mortem (Digital Self-Release)
Providence RI’s Black Pus is a well-known underground noise rock felon whose albums shock and awe your ass with catchy, infectious rock and roll fury and one man multitasking mastery, without fail. Pus Mortem, which came out via Pus’ bandcamp page this past August, is no exception. It starts you out on an autobahn of heavy, manic grooves, careening through several diverse landscapes of experimental noise and dynamic, spiritual textures and leaves you way out in space, floating weightlessly in sick, blissed-out loops and drones and bouncing off fire ball drum blasts that are traveling through the cosmos at the speed of light. He does it all from behind the drum kit but don’t ask me how, with a microphone and one hell of an electronics bag of tricks I’m thinkin. Both live and on record, Black Pus will blow your mind wide open. Go buy this for whatever price you choose (on the holy bandcamp) and keep an eye out for this East Coast monster coming up to Boston sometime this spring, we are all over making that happen.
GUERILLA TOSS – Jeffrey Johnson (Feeding Tube Records)
It’s hard to argue with Guerilla Toss. I’ve been following these guys like a weird fan boy/concerned parent since their driving force/drummer started coming over to the Whitehaus porch with tapes and such few years back. Not too far long after that, the toss played Weirdstalk at the Cambridge Y and altered my cranium forever, putting my experiment thirst first. And after watching them slay crowds big and small, at home and a broad, after several awesome tapes releases and a few line up changes this crew is going full speed ahead into 2013. One defining moment for solidifying the seriousness of this group in the hearts and minds of us all was the release of their debut LP Jeffrey Johnson on mother-label Feeding Tube. An LP which not only stands up to but towers over the (impressive) trajectory of releases this band has had going on. With the utmost dedication to their nurturing music scene and consistently spreading the word of Boston well beyond it, they’re one of those bands that’s just untouchable now. Mercilessly changing from one brutal part to the next, in rapid succession, they somehow make the most grating, nasty, and heinous sounds into an ensemble of exalted arrangements. Nearly every person I’ve ever seen The Toss expose themselves to either gets it right or walks away confounded and inspired to figure it out immediately. Their ability to make such jagged, challenging, versatile noise rock so fun and accessible to so many people is perhaps the most impressive thing about them, besides their ridiculously sick songs of course. Showing no signs of slowing down Guerilla Toss is sure to upset a lot more folks this year who aren’t ready to get their mind flipped, Jeffrey Johnson is just the beginning.
ED SCHRADER’S MUSIC BEAT – Jazz Mind (Load Records)
Baltimore’s fiercest duo is comprised of comedian/talk show host/far out thinker Ed Schrader and low end fuzz slayer and veteran DIY player Devlin Rice. This past year they released Jazz Mind, an all too concise glimpse into the how hard these dudes bring it and in so many different ways. Ed spits the simple derangements that haunt us all daily back in our face and in huge clumps of heavy, catchy lines. He does so in both fast pace, shrieking chaos and melodic, dreamlike drawn-out whispering. Either way it makes for a food fight of a sing-along, especially as thunderous fuzz bass, which could easily compete with any full band in a clamor pageant, shifts accordingly from unruly punk riffs to warm, cradling pulsings. They masterfully strip rock and roll down to it’s core and prove that it’s all you need to bulldoze people with sound. It’s like Shawnie says: it’s unbelievably classic for an album that came out last year. Concepts everyone can dig, delivered with high energy attitude. Get into Ed Schrader’s Music Beat before they come back to town again.
TYVEK – On Triple Beams (In The Red)
If you like your garage punk diversified by pace, patience and attitude, turn your ear to the mighty TYVEK‘s latest full length On Triple Beams. The crazy anthemic pulse of Wayne County Roads knocked me out right away and forced me to start over this year end list of mine. But the whole album has so much to give, it’s incredible. It’s got that noisey, droning and gripping lead shredding, straight up accessible but never boring tunes, and a most empathetic front man, spraying empowering poetry all over the unlikely progressions and unexpected, prod like beat keeping. There’s a healthy mix of chill slower jams/grooves and wild psychedelic sax skronk in here for sure. From what I understand this band has had several line-up changes over the years but not only do they carry on, they step it up. On Triple Beams is everything you have come to expect from Tyvek and then some. They’ve gotten even better at writing radical underground anthems with truly deep hooks. You get the feelng that they’re wailing just for you and that bad attitude you’re always draggin around. Although I’ve never been to Detroit I think they get the same “what am I doing here?” feeling just like kids in Boston, perhaps more so. Tyvek is one of those bands who suggest you could do something about it. The awesomely agitated and droning guitar spasms that seem to never end are like the perfect reactionary bounce to the monotony that surrounds us all on a regular basis. They riff on like they’re hanging on for dear life, WITH PURPOSE, the way all urban wasteland misfit rockers should. After years of pumping out sick, catchy, inspiring shit it’s clear, TYVEK is still on the level.
NATHAN VENTURA – Asshole With A Clarinet (Anonymous Dog)
kick off nate venturas debut record Asshole With A Clarinetcreeping demented electronic and acoustic noise. from crushing industrial drums and stomach twisting noise hums. some unsettling shit. but it then goes into… transitions into Residents style folk song romps with wry wit the melodic basis is chaotic woodwind/duck call nonesense and coolely groovin acoustic bass and electronics bleeps.. venturas vocals are definitely unique in this day/age but it is reminscient of all the great wacked out odd folksets of the past Beefheart like wisdom in hear.. it kind of has it all.loner music Another hidden gem that came out of the boston underground last year shits DARK. Demon is my favorite cut, a chain gang escape song for those who feel like maybe they just ain’t right for this world or maybe this world just aint right for them. strangely hopeful music, you’re not alone freaks! raw waltz ‘I quit my job’ is the perfect musical output of the feeling of death we all get from time to time. the way side b begins let’s you know you’re listening to the right record, between nasty clarinet squelches, wide open cymbal heavy drum groove and wise remarkin vocal whine it’s not exacly clear which element is telling you like it is louder. He may be an asshole but you know what? he’s right this world sucks a whole heck of a lot but it’s made infinitely better with MENACING musical nastiness to get down with like this, buy nate ventura on anonymous dwag.
PILE – Dripping (Exploding In Sound)
Another no brainer for my year end list was Pile’s second spellbinding LP ‘DRIPPING’. It actually raises the bar set by their 2010 LP Magic Isn’t Real for raw long playing displays of a rock band with and axe to grind. You might have heard me go on and on about PILE this past year and for similar reasons to their fellow locals on the list. This band makes music that eclipses the oceans of melodic rock which my friends and I tirelessly scour for truly righteous nuggets of realness and they started from straight nothin, right here in Boston. PILE probably have a better national presence than most Boston bands because of their constant touring over the past few years but it wouldn’t be shit if they weren’t NASTY at it. They bring the fury wherever they go, delivering catchy jams with such intensity that it cannot be denied by anyone with a pulse. Dripping represents all of PILE’s best elements: wailing guitars, crushing low end, absolutely brutal percussion and vocals that somehow croon and shriek at the same time. And as always, the backbone of it all is sweet, memorable tunes. The Dripping LP is even dynamic than their last, getting deeper into the quieter and even more emotive realms of rock and roll agitation but the end result is the same – leaving you empowered by demon releasing, head bopping heaviness. I call it blissed-out agressive rock and I think everybody needs some. BUY IT HERE
MOONPOOL & DEAD BAND – Human Fly (Not Not Fun)
Little did you know that out in Detroit, MI there is some crazy OUT-HOUSE that will change the way you shake your ass. That is to say, it’s where a cosmic collaboration between known slayers producing killer damaged techno was born. Far out, way beyond the house where all the best dance music is confined, exists a simple and cozy yet, mysterious structure that is beckoning your hips. It’s some necessary cleansing solitude from the everyday, predictable party vibes, a place in which you can rid yourself of the horribly normal beat based bullshit they’re feeding you and just enjoy the awesome noises inside your head for once. This is Moonpool and Dead Band, a challenging yes totally accessible amalgamation of salvaged synths, damaged drum machines, fucked up FX and high time house beats. The duo, comprised of Nate Young (of Wolf Eyes) and Dave Shettler (of Sights), has been pumping out nasty drugged out techno pretty consistently for the past few years but this August’s Human Fly is the hottest thing they’ve done so far, or at least this year. It’s jaw dropping, third-eye widening and brick-shittingly cool dance music, thanks for opening up the orifices fellas. BUY IT HERE.
The other top albums I dug HARD in 2012:
DAN MELCHIOR – Backward Path (Northern Spy)
CONTAINER – LP (Spectrum Spools)
TRACEY TRANCE – Pyper Kub (One Kind Favor, Feeding Tube, Canada Goose Tapes)
SPACIN’ – Deep Thuds (Richie Records)
HORSE LORDS – Horse Lords (Ehse Records)
DOPE BODY – Natural History (Drag City)
BLUES CONTROL – Valley Tangents (Drag City)
CHAIN AND THE GANG – IN COLD BLOOD (K Recs)