WILL MAYO has been a member of the Boston underground music community for a very long time. He plays music in several different configurations as MIND YETI, HOMEWORLD, DOUBLE AWAKE, and others. He also organizes many shows in the Boston area as SLOW BLOOD MUSIC.

His TOPS of 2011:

I feel lucky to have seen some amazing bands this year. It’s becoming harder and harder to tour and there’s plenty of amazing musicians who can’t make it to Boston, let alone that other big city in the Northeast. I hope we can all keep doing our best to support the bands who do come to town. Whether it’s throwing a few bucks in the donation jar, buying a tape, or putting them up for the night, every small gesture of kindness towards the music-makers helps keep this beautiful thing going.
This is my baker’s dozen of awesome music from 2011, an un-ranked list consisting primarily of bands that I was lucky enough to see live. It’s no coincidence that most of this music is dark, chaotic, and/or weird. We are not living in chill times.



Tour-tight hardcore punk with two vocalists and an incredible live energy that is captured as well as wax can by this LP.  They draw from the dark and noisy hemispheres of punk while maintaining the integrity of their catchy riffs and positive mental attitudes.  Gotta nuke somethin.



Not just another synth guy, Rene Hell crafts kinetic sculptures of tone and texture that blossom and implode with a manic/neurotic intensity that exhibits his masterful control of dynamics and mood.  Either that or he’s figured out how to induce a massive panic attack in his MS-2000.



Dark and dirty basement jams.  A post-punk/noise-rock power trio that manages to be aggressively nasty and hypnotically groovy (sexy, even?) at the same time.  Awesome melodic bass playing, loud and dynamic drums, and blown-the-fuck-out guitar/vox.

Dark Age by Big Black Cloud



Luke Moldof, now performing primarily as Stillbirth, has performed and released a lot of amazing music with a variety of monikers, always managing to keep me interested in his next move.  This record is a perfect encapsulation of a signature style and approach that ties together a number of his projects. There is a studied minimalism and a masterful control of mood that runs throughout his work. His primary territory is usually a dark one, but there are some sunlit moments on this LP. It’s not a feeling, however, of actually being in the sunlight. It’s more like a memory of a bright day that is haunted by a sense of menace and foreboding. At times sparse and disarming, each side manages to drag you into a realm of claustrophobic uncertainty. Recommended for fans of sitting alone in dark rooms.



Heavy rocks from the Bay Area. Drawing from Harvey Milk’s dynamic deconstruction of Melvins-isms as well as the more stoned elements of psych and shoegaze, these three cats manage to hit all the right marks without falling into stoner-metal cliches. With an elegant control of dynamic space (as well as psychedelic head-space), they go places that are just inaccessible to other bands that heard Electric Wizard or Neurosis and thought “hey, I can do that”. I was absolutely blown away by their live set when i caught them in SF in the summer of 2010. Here’s hoping they’ve resolved make it out to the east coast this year.



Eli’s music can give the impression of a drum set (as well as crotales, motorized plectrums, open-tuned guitars, etc…) falling down a spiral staircase, but that is missing the mark for a number of reasons. A more appropriate image would be one of a master percussionist pouring out tiny spiral staircases onto his kit, but that doesn’t cut it because it fails to express his inventiveness and clarity of intent. This LP on the legendary ESP-Disk label finds Eli collaborating with other skilled improvisers including his wife Ashley Paul (also an accomplished solo musician), post-modern shaman Andrew Fenlon, and Sakiko Mori (of Daily Life). There is also a beautiful and complimentary visual component to this album, with Eli’s delicate drawings reproduced on the sleeve and the multi-color silkscreen insert. Much like his music, the artwork evokes the organic and the mechanical in equal amounts.


SKIMASK / GEFFIKA – SPLIT LP (Sophomore Lounge)

“Yeah, go ahead, grab another beer.  No, this first band has no guitars… but I dare you to make your guitar sound like that.. Anyways, look: the kids are already moving.  Do you hear what this dude is saying?  So killer… Skimask 4eva.  The next band has ‘real instruments’, and they’re from Chicago, so stick around. They kinda remind me of when Wildildlife discovered Harvey Milk… Or, like, Noothgrush meets 7 Year Rabbit Cycle… Dude, really?  Check em out… Anyhow, we should probably smoke a… Oh man, ouch… Yup, it’s not a real show here unless someone falls down the stairs.”

Doctor, Electricity, Monster by SKIMASK

Still Dangerous by Geffika

GUERILLA TOSS – TAPES (self-released)

Easily the best of the young and weird in Boston.  An amazing free-jazz/noise-rock unit that has only begun to fulfill their potential. As cerebral as it is visceral, their psychedelic punk assault is bound to open up some interesting territories. Discerning freaks take note.


THE MEN – LEAVE HOME (Sacred Bones)

Dan Shea already nailed it… These guys make you wish there were 100 more bands like them.  It’s truly amazing to watch this band barrel like the proverbial Bull through a China-Shoppe of styles and influences while maintaining their inherent punk-ness and never failing to sound like themselves.  Their dexterity is equal to their strength, and this record manages to capture both.


UNICORN HARD-ON / CONTAINER – SPLIT LP (Hot Releases / More Records)

Both of these solo artists play dark and noisy electronic music that, like a lot of music I’m into, tends to skirt around an easily defined genre tag. They bring a primal but controlled party-vibe that withstands closer scrutiny… There’s a lot of layers and multiple directions from which to approach their music. Is it “techno”? Is it “noise”? Is it… nope, not going there.



This record came out early in 2011, just in time to be my soundtrack to the dissolution of a relationship I had known to be bound to fail.  Like a good beer-buddy, it helped me to get over my self-pity while still savoring the familiar company of misery.  Mature and stripped down songwriting with a convincing sense of melancholy and regret. Hypnotically poppy sad-bastard music.



Contemplative and ecstatic but not quite “blissed-out”, Caboladies’ expansive synth-based drones and textures are anything but monochromatic or boring.  I call this “ball pit music” cuz you can’t help but fall in and swim around.  The ultimate cure for Boston January Syndrome, this duo’s astral explorations have also been know to effect positive results in those suffering from Chronic Big Apple.


RED HORSE – S/T (Type)

This is the second record on my list featuring the prolific percussionist Eli Keszler but there’s nothing redundant about listing it here. Eli’s signature style is fully evident, but complimented in this duo by the dark sound-palette of Steve Pyne. He utilizes guitars (prepared and otherwise) and an awe-inspiring arsenal of home-built devices to create harsh but enveloping fields of sound and skittering chaos. It goes without saying that theirs is a controlled chaos, a gorgeous death rattle that evokes a feeling of disaster and decay like nothing else. One of my favorite live bands, Red Horse were actively performing in Boston around 08-10 but have been on hiatus while Steve tours the world in a band of an entirely different sort. I imagine they’ll be playing some shows this year in support of this record, and I’m very much looking forward to it. The Tumblr page I’ve linked to below is a “digital insert” for this record, with beautiful hi-res images of the aforementioned devices.

Red Horse Tumblr

Red Horse – Red Horse by _type

Here’s some more bands and other folks that were awesome in 2011:

SWANS, Sir Richard Bishop, Neptune, Milk Music, Colin Langenus Orchestra, Weirdo Records (store), Time Ghost, Exusamwa, Rotten Apples, Widowspeak, Reports, Animal Hospital Orchestra, Radian, Extra Life, Vile Bodies (R.I.P.), Cop City / Chill Pillars, Warpaint, Greg Kelley, Spectral Rehab (booking), Andy Maher Candy Bar, Jeremy Harris (Lazy Magnet / Meager Sunlight), Ancient Filth, Ramming Speed, Gospel Gossip, Happy Jawbone Family Band, Young Adults, Hunnie Bunnies, Arvid Noe, Area C, Eat Cloud, Deathcrush, Altaar, Cave, Comanche, Hero[n], The Needy Visions, TAPS, AIDS Wolf, Smokey Bear Cave (house), Hypnic Jerk, Alan Gesso, YDLMIER (tapes), Veiled, Controlled Bleeding

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