While it may not look and feel like Christmas outside here in Warsaw, I hope you are all filled with good vibes, happiness and joyous memories of this passing year. With my second daughter on board things have been a bit busier and crazier, so I’ve decided to succumb to the the pressure of presenting Best of the Best Ofs of the year and give you not one list, a number of 2017 wrap-ups, created by not by one ambitious blogger, but several dedicated artists, record labels, and people, who use inspiration as a way of reworking it into their own inventiveness.
Today, we have Alex Petralia of Bay Area punks NOPES, whose recentnly announced his new solo project STUNTED on Drwg Music*, new Bristol-based label started by publicist and founder of Sheltered Life PR, Richard S Jones. Alex has shared his top 5 records this year and gave us some additional commentaries that shed a little light on what he’s enjoying in his inspirations. Voilà!
GUIDED BY VOICES – How Do You Spell Heaven?
Favourite Track: ‘The Birthday Democrats’
Another year, another five GBV related albums. I’m still a sucker and always listen to each and every one. However, this newest record really stood out in overall quality. There are no filler tracks, and each song is chalk full of impeccable hooks that captivate you until the very last song. Although they now lack Tobin’s songwriting, Doug Gillard adds excellent guitar work that keeps flowing better and better with Robert Pollard’s songs. Their current drummer, Kevin March, adds far more punch and precision than any of their earlier drummers. This band is one of the most inspiring bands in terms of album production and overall sound, and hearing albums like How Do You Spell Heaven? is a huge encouragement for us little guys to keep our heads down and keep plugging away.
TOBIN SPROUT – The Universe & Me
Favorite Track: ‘Cowboy Curtains’
I’ve always been a big Tobin fan, and that classic GBV line-up with him will always be the most special to me, but I’ve never been able to get too into his solo records in the past. I’ve always found a lot of the tracks to be skippable, and always felt like it was lacking a sense of adventure and excitement. This new record, which took several years in the making, proved my dumb ass wrong. This is by far some of the best work Tobin has written for any project or collaboration, and every single track on this record is a hit worth listening to again and again. I was lucky enough to catch him live this year, and I hate to say it, but his new band (especially that drummer) really gives the new GBV line-up a run for their money.
DAVID NANCE – Negative Boogie
Favorite Track: ‘Silver Wings’
This record came out of left field for me this year. After never hearing anything by David Nance before, I’m glad this was the introduction. This record is really all over the place in terms of sound. From deconstructed noise rock, to country pop, to psych garage, Nance really proves his outstanding songwriting abilities with this record. This record is perfect in its writing, and the sound quality of this record is completely on point for his style. Unfortunately, I missed my chance to see him this year but word around town is that his live shows are incredible.
TOYOTA – Polyvinyl Chloride Sonosheet Containing Classified Data
Favourite Track: ‘Unprocessed Material (Metal)’
Everything about this band rules – their nonchalant ballsy and blatant disregard for copyright law, their elaborate matching outfits, the bouncy jerky madness, etc. Each time I’ve seen them, everyone always says some remark about Devo worship (I’d say more so The Residents than anything). However, these guys are way beyond that. Normal people who like Devo hate this, and that’s what makes it so great. Bands like Flying Luttenbachers and U.S. Maple were always masterminds at beautifully splitting the audience, and Toyota brings that back like I’ve never seen before. There’s truly no other band out there like them today, and their deadpan appearance mixed with the absolute insanity that’s occurring makes this band incredibly fascinating, unique and always a joy to listen to (and especially to see live). The packaging on this record is also genius. It comes in a simple yellow envelope stamped with the Discontinuous Innovations logo (their label) and “Confidential” warnings. These goobers even forged a tax return and an IRS letter in lieu of an insert. Well fucking played.
YOGURT BRAIN – Lemon Tree EP
Favourite Track: ‘It Takes a Parade to Laugh and an Asshole to Cry’
Yogurt Brain is by far one of the best groups to come from the Bay Area, and one of my personal favorites. There’s a strong Gram Parsons influence, throwing in with some Meat Puppets shredding, and addicting melodies. I recall speaking with Steve-O about one of our favourite albums, Alien Lanes, and how that album feels like a warm fuzzy blanket. Good music interests you, but great music transports you to another place whether that’s full of anger, sadness or love. This album more than captures that cloak of soothing cosiness in such a brief amount of time. Yogurt Brain is truly a lost treasure that needs to be heard by everyone.