Artist: Antique Pony
Antique Pony // Gay Ghosts
I wrote a few months ago about Antique Pony and about how they were gearing up to release a split cassette with Teen Suicide. Cool news, right? Well guess what, that’s not happening anymore because Teen Suicide is dead. Boo hoo. Well, anyways these Scottish noisemakers have carried on in the form of their new cassette EP Gay Ghosts.
Further contributing to the burgeoning emo noise scene, these guys have dinged, dented, and scratched their sound up even more than on Museum of Blood. They shout, scream, wail, and bang on their instruments all while recording everything to tape. They even go so far as to incorporate elements of spoken word and degraded clips of sampled dialogue (sound familiar?). It’s a brash release, but it’s also charming with these guys relishing all of their rough edges.
Look for the EP to be released on cassette by Hikikomori Family, the band’s new label. PS - I’ve also heard tell of future releases by Heroin Party and UUUUUU from this new startup, so that’s also something to look forward to.
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It all comes down to this. These are the six releases that truly made my year. Thanks for indulging me.
6. Teen Suicide // DC Snuff Film/Waste Yrself [self-released]
What a trajectory Teen Suicide had this year. It seems like not that long ago that Sam was asking me to premiere the project for him (yeah, that’s me bragging) and since that time the project evolved from a somewhat doo-wop aping bedroom project to a full band noise pop powerhouse. They dropped five releases this year, but in my opinion the project started the year off with a bang that they ended not topping. DC Snuff Film and the elusive Waste Yrself were intended to be two sides of a cassette release that never ended up happening. I’m not sure what the reasoning was for the band’s dissolving, but I can honestly say that they made a good run of it. Now I’m looking forward to whatever Sam cranks out next.
5. Pallbearer // Sorrow and Extinction [Profound Lore]
It still boggles my mind that Sorrow and Extinction is Pallbearer’s debut album. Even crazier yet is the acclaim that was heaped on this funeral doom band. Sites that normally shy away from the metal genre are hailing this album with its droning 8+ minute tracks as one of the year’s absolute best. It’s almost universal. It’s funny that so much death and darkness shroud the release because when I listened to it I found that it was one of the most life-affirming albums I heard this year. Each track is like climbing a mountain. They throw buzzing, down-tuned riff after buzzing, down-tuned riff at you and all the while they are mounting to a gorgeous climax. Once you make it to the top though, the view is breathtaking.
4. Daughn Gibson // All Hell [White Denim]
I chose All Hell as the album that I wanted to highlight for PORTALS’ year-end list. Rather than hammer out another paragraph about why I love it so much, I’ll just direct you to the list, which we collectively worked really hard on. Check it out here.
3. Cloud Nothings // Attack On Memory [Carpark]
I’ve been a fan of Cloud Nothings since I first discovered Turning On as it made its way around the blogs in 2010 (I even squeezed a cover out of him for a mixtape). When his sound got cleaner and exponentially poppier for his self-titled album it soundtracked the hot days of my 2011 summer. The only foreseeable problem was that since the songs were so sugary they didn’t pack a lasting punch. All that has changed though with Attack On Memory. Stirring in a considerable helping of darkness and angst, Cloud Nothings has matured their sound by leaps and bounds. The result is an album that has just as many hooks as before but this time the shelf life is considerably longer.
2. Swans // The Seer [Young God]
Swans was one of those bands that I’d always heard plenty about but never took the initiative to listen to. My pal Jimmy Spice changed that when he basically forced The Seer on me. I’ll admit that it wasn’t love at first sight, but the more I listened to the grueling album the more it grew on me. It’s not accessible in the least, it punishes the listener, and yet it’s one of the most rewarding musical experiences I’ve had all year. I appreciate it all the more because they made me work at it. I had to keep pounding my fists on it before I found a crack to slip my fingertips into. From there I pried it wide open and discovered a masterwork that was easily worth all of the work I put into understanding it. It’s not an easy album to recommend to people, but if you can crack it there is gold to be found.
1. Converge // All We Love We Leave Behind [Epitaph]
There was no question about my favorite album of the year. It was always going to be All We Love We Leave Behind. Converge has held a special place in my heart ever since I was in junior high and just starting to get into hardcore music. Their consistency for a band who has been together for over 20 years is a quality that demands respect. They are always pushing themselves to be better and they embody the very spirit of DIY. The endeavors and contributions of each individual member are paramount to their success and because of the enduring quality of their music they’ve garnered ardent followers both critically as well as scenesters. Following up their collaboration-heavy masterpiece Axe to Fall was not going to be an easy task, but somehow they managed to create an album that feels like both a return to form as well as one that breaks new artistic ground for the veteran group. On top of all that this thing just all out slaughters.
30-25 // 24-19 // 18-13 // 12-7 // 6-1
Artist: pill friends
Pill Friends // It’s Kyle’s Birthday Everyday
If there is one theme that comes screaming through on the new EP by Philadelphia band Pill Friends it’s chemical dependency. I mean come on, the band is called Pill Friends, they’ve got tracks with titles like “Klonopin” and “Pillspillspills,” and they talk about stuff like methadone dependency. And although the tracks on It’s Kyle’s Birthday Everyday seem catchy and upbeat, I can’t help but coming away from it feeling a bit depressed. It’s the same sort of tongue-in-cheek bitterness that is shared by similar acts like Teen Suicide and Coma Cinema. Think of it as like an evolved form of emo without any of the cheese.
Sharing the same sort of home-recorded production vibe as the aforementioned bands, Pill Friends boasts some pretty good, catchy songwriting with elements of surprising instrumentation… well, surprising instrumentation for music that seems so fixated on manic depression. I guess I just never expected to hear cellos accompanying lines like “And I stab myself in the chest” which are being sung in rounds. But hey, if that sort of thing appeals to you, then you’ll probably gleefully gobble this EP up.
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Title: the way we were with people
Artist: teen suicide
Teen Suicide // I Will Be My Own Hell…
Actually the whole title is I Will Be My Own Hell Because There Is a Devil Inside My Body. What a long title. Anyways so yeah, the Teen Suicide boys dropped yet another release this past weekend. I don’t know if I’ve been out of the loop or what, but I didn’t even know that this was in the works. Funny thing is, Sam had been emailing me what I assumed were just demos, but I’ve been so busy lately that I didn’t dig much deeper than that. Ah, whatever. A surprise is a surprise and this is a pretty good one.
If you dig Teen Suicide then I WIll Be My Own Hell should be welcome and familiar territory. The songwriting is still strong and the production quality is maybe a smidge better with some of the fuzz having been scraped off. Most notably though, this is Teen Suicide’s first shindig as a trio. Sam and Eric added a permanent bass player in the form of their friend Alec Simke AKA “Torts” (I think I got that right, but if I didn’t I’ll hear about it). There also seems to be some discussion as to whether this is a full-length album or simply another EP. It’s a bulky, ten-track release, so I don’t know. What do you think?
BANDCAMP | TUMBLR | FACBEOOK
Title: happy families
Artist: antique pony
Antique Pony // Museum of Blood
I’d been seeing links to this Antique Pony album all over my Facebook lately, but for whatever reason I did not click. Then the band emailed me yesterday which left me with no excuse to continue being ignorant because goodness, gracious, great balls of fire! this stuff is pretty great.
The gang of Scotland natives billed their music to me as noise/art rock, and while that might be somewhat true of their sound, I think that sells them short a bit. There is so much more melody and exploration here than that tag suggests. In some ways this album has a case of dissociative identity disorder. There are times where it is poppy and downright welcoming guitar rock before it slips down into this almost dark, slightly manic post-punk; and yet it all undeniably comes from the same source. If you can get into it it will certainly keep you on your toes. Oh and Antique Pony will be releasing a split with Teen Suicide in the near future if that helps you put it into perspective at all.
BANDCAMP | FACEBOOK
Title: goblins cry too
Artist: teen suicide
Teen Suicide // Goblin Problems
They’re back. Again. Sam had been teasing the release of the EP Goblin Problems for a while now, then he decided that today was as good a day as any to drop it. And since my blog has become Sam’s personal cheerleading squad for over two years now I figured I’d add another two cents on the fuzz punk troublemakers known as Teen Suicide.
Sam remains an interesting online presence. I told him that Teen Suicide is noise pop for people who don’t like noise pop. Plus they chose a purposefully offensive name for the project; one that many people would ignore without even checking out the music were it not for the fact that it’s by the (in)famous Sam Ray. But for all his quirks and his ADHD-riddled Tumblr page, Sam remains one of today’s finest songwriters. If you were never sure how seriously to take him, do yourself a favor and let the music speak for itself. He and Teen Suicide’s under-acknowledged other half Eric Livingston are doing their best to absolutely own 2012 and Goblin Problems is just another step in making that goal a reality.
BANDCAMP | TUMBLR | FACEBOOK
Title: bad news
Artist: teen suicide
Teen Suicide // DC Snuff Film
It’s pretty much a given that if you are reading this blog then you are aware of ambient slacker poster child Ricky Eat Acid. I think out of all the artists I’ve covered, I’ve given the most amount of time to Sam Ray’s music. Now that he is devoting much of his time to his band Teen Suicide (now a full band with his friend Eric Livingston) those numbers are only going to increase all the more. I wasn’t even planning on blogging this weekend but then Sam farted this thing out on Twitter last night, so here we are (plus it’s been in my iTunes for about a month now, so I pretty much know how I feel about it).
This is the first we’ve heard from Teen Suicide since their album Bad Vibes Forever. At only seven tracks long, this thing is only half the length of their debut. Right off the bat I can tell you that this is a much more focused, cohesive effort from the band. Also the songwriting is tighter, faster, and louder resulting in a release that is pretty much straight punk rock. I love the fidelity of these tracks. Strap on some headphones and you basically feel like the band is right there in your head bangin these tracks out. You can hear every buzz of the guitar strings, every crackle in Sam’s voice, and the snap of each drum hit. It’s just a super solid release that I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I do.
*Oh, word to the wise. You might have some explaining to do when people see that you ‘like’ Teen Suicide on Facebook. Just letting you know.*
BANDCAMP | TUMBLR | FACEBOOK
Artist: Teen Suicide
Teen Suicide // Bad Vibes Forever
I have the extreme pleasure of premiering this new project. It’s been a long time in the making and its creator has gestated it like a nurturing mother (father, whatever), waiting until the time was right to release it into the world. That creator is none other than songwriting dynamo Sam Ray. Churning out a sickening amount of music as Ricky Eat Acid he has switched gears completely with this new noise pop project Teen Suicide. In fact, switching gears really isn’t strong enough of a term to convey the metamorphosis here. A total changing of tracks, course, and final destination is what has occurred in a basement somewhere in Maryland.
On Bad Vibes Forever Sam makes his love for three things painfully obvious: music, fuzz, and the early 1960’s. When these tracks aren’t buzzing the headphones out of your ears they will be crooning you into a nostalgic haze of years that you didn’t even experience. On the album closer “Crying” Sam plays the part of a love-sick teenager whose raw emotion has left him nothing to do except pour himself out into his music. The gently cascading guitars (and later piano) create an atmosphere that comes off as utterly wistful but also gentle and charming. It’s about as perfect of a track as I really care to hear these days.
I’m really proud of Sam and the work he’s done here. I am also really blessed to consider Sam a friend of mine. He’s been a big supporter of mine and this weirdo blog even before I really knew what it was. So do yourself a huge favor and support Sam by downloading this thing as soon as possible. You can nab it in its entirety from either the bandcamp site or from this here link.
Check him out: BANDCAMP | TWITTER