It’s been a busy year and I’m finding it hard to whittle down favorite-anythings, be they albums, events or live shows. (You can probably find some of these titles in-stock / on the shelf at your local Record Store: Found Sound in downtown Ferndale).
Here, I’ll attempt a selection of my Top 12 favorite local albums of 2012... the first half, that is...
12.Child Bite – Monomania / Jamaican Queens – Kids Get Away (single)
It was on Monomania where this Ferndale/Berkley-based quartet sounded as though they'd struck their near-full potential for what they call "trash-vibratto;" -spooky-grooves, ragged, rubbery tones and just an aura of unhinged, ricochet-rock, wrung and whipped and busting all the lightbulbs out to set this strangely-alluring metallic-noise-pop melee.
I've put, as honorary-mention, the debut single by Jamaican Queens - This is just a preview of the band's forthcoming full length -Worm Food- which was recorded here in Ferndale, get on their post-disco, shoegaze-dazzled dirgey-dance pop early...
11. Misty Lyn & the Big Beautiful – False Honey
The most proximal local tie to this mostly Ypsi/Arbor-based quintet has is Misty's guitar player, Ferndale-based Ryam Gimpert (both of whom you can see/hear performing as part of the ).
When an album becomes a statement, a firm-pressed signature, a personal proclamation of sorts, "...when the heart sings the hardest..." -when an artist feels on a mission, it's palpable and resoundingly poignant; you can tell, on these songs, not just how much the album came to mean for Misty, but how much music, overall, means for Misty.
Misty Lyn & the Big Beautiful - False Honey
10. Kickstand Band – Puppy Love
Potent pop...It works when its worn so well. More hooks than a bait-n'-tackle-supply shop, kicked with so many ebullient crescendos, unabashed swagger, whimsical winks and breathy harmonies. Recorded here in Ferndale (in a humble, but accommodating home studio), these surfy jams are sure to brighten up any gray n' cold blase of forthcoming January day(ze).
Kickstand Band - Puppy Love
9. Pewter Cub – If You Can Hold Your Breath
Just when I think this band is gonna take me back to some dreamy, reverb-wrangled early 90s twirl of twee and seminal indie-rock, they slow things down and fuzz-things up further to more of a ponderous, shoegaze shuffle, only to then wreak a bit of an avant-gardist shred with a wiry, wailing guitar solo. You'll recognize their guitar player from Ferndale-regulars like Duende and their drummer also kicks for another Ferndale group (listed below...)
Listen: Pewter Cub's debut... (Hold Your Breath, their 2nd album, will be out in mid-January on Ferndale-based Bellyache Records--Technically cheating here... Flaunting music-journalist privilege...
8. Pupils – Not Another Bone Broke Avenue / Myth of Nonexistence
Dance of the Scoundrels! This band, on record and live-in-person, is always a trip. Masters of the gnarly-groove, eerie oscillations and shimmering textures atop steady-kicked rhythms and murky bass booms. This Ferndale-based quartet display their wild imaginations, not just in the disorienting-albeit-evocative-lyricism of their rampant frontman, but also in the post-bop/no-wave/jazz freeform approach they employ to their live show and songwriting.
Pupils - The Myth of Non-Existence
7. Matt Jones & the Reconstruction – Half Poison, Half Pure
This was actually the first local album -of-the-year- that I picked up and listened to...I met Mr. Jones, hailing from the Ypsi/Arbor scene, for coffee on January 2nd and he gave me a copy of this, his most energized, if not most-electrified work, glossed up a bit more from his usual gothic-Americana-aesthetic into an indie-rock roused / freewheeling folk-pop, yet still (if you dig into it) tinged with a bit of the dark n' ominous poetics that were his signature from previous releases. I still think "Special Forces" is one of the best songs of the year...even after 300-some-odd days and 20-ish some-odd spins...
Matt Jones & the Reconstruction - Half Poison, Half-Pure