The sounds of 2013. Another CB Top 10
By Mike Turner
When presented with the “hey it’s mid year so get in your top picks so Collapse Board has some content” I was having the hardest time even finding five records. However, like the fucking champ that I am, with a little time and thought I was having trouble narrowing it down to only 10 releases. It’s been a rollercoaster of a year so far, so this list is gonna reflect that. Enough of this typing for no reason business and let’s cut to the chase.
(these are in no particular order)
Cosines – Sailor Boy 7″ (Fika)
Yeah I gave this little gem a Single of the Week about a month ago, but it’s just so good I have to mention it again. Think Camera Obscura meets Stereolab but nowhere near as serious or down as either of those artists. It’s good sunny day let’s make it a super happy fun day type record that will have those polka dot skirts and scout master shorts being brought out of hiding with you bursting out of doors to frolic in the park for an afternoon cuddle on your favorite park bench while you feed the squirrels.
The Fall – Re-Mit (Cherry Red)
This one has the ol’ Collapse Board a bit split with some folks on here saying it doesn’t inspire, but I find this to be up there with some of the top Fall records like Hex Induction Hour, Perverted by Language or Frightening World Of. Mark E Smith barks, bites and chases the constant Fall rhythm we’ve all grown used to. Is it new? well, no. It’s it fun? Yes. Is it worth the import price? Oh hell yes.
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City (XL)
I used to kinda hide how much I liked Vampire Weekend. However I’ve come to terms with it and I have to yell from the rooftops that Vampire Weekend might be one of the most consistently on top of it with perfect pop songs both musically and lyrically out there today. They make me sing and hum along to almost every song. The preppy little fucks know how to craft a good melody. Then figure in how smart the lyrics are and it just can’t be ignored. Yeah I know it’s just Paul Simon’s Graceland mixed with the Caddyshack theme in a few places but yeah who cares it’s good.
Space Drugs – Yacht Club (self released)
This band with no official release and just a BandCamp snuck onto the list at the very last minute. Stuck in a room not made to hold a band and a crowd the walls were sweating and the ceiling fan that was to cool us off was just pushing the heat radiating off the band and crowd around the room driving the intensity up a notch with each song that passed. The floor was wanting to buckle as we all jumped up and down. Maybe it was the fact they sounded like Sebadoh, Superchunk, Burning Airlines and Dinosaur Jr poured through a funnel. Maybe it was the heat and the noise. Maybe I was taken back to some of the best house shows I saw in my youth. Maybe it was the Nirvana cover, but they won me over and at the end of the set when I asked if they had any records my shoulders dropped when they only had T-shirts I bought a shirt anyway when I just wanted to take what I heard that night home. I’m hoping they do release something, and that everyone falls for it like I did, cause I want to say “yeah I saw them in this house back when” to some kid some day and blow their mind.
Bambara – Dream Violence (Arrowhawk)
The title kinda says it all, hazy, angry, the recorded sounds of nightmare screams through a megaphone played on a handheld tape recorder via a loud PA. Equal parts Birthday Party, Lard, Pigface and AC Temple ensure a dark unrelenting ride through the darker parts of humanity but there are flickers of light and beauty through the destruction. The soundtrack for smashing car windows with bricks, the score for scoring, the sound of the car brakes that send your mouth all metallic. Bambara are all these things and more.
Cowtown – Dudes vs. Bad Dudes (City Hands)
There are bands you stumble upon which seem tailor made to be your new favorite band. Like it’s the perfect storm of influences, subject matter, and performance. Cowtown for me are just that band. There are moments that remind me of Deerhoof, other moments that remind me of Devo. Then you add in nerd culture a la Simpsons, skateboarding, and the overall 80’s beach sleaze that is the cover art and it’s like it’s been created just for me. The most exciting live band I have seen in ages with a record that after 100+ plays since April has not gotten old or boring. Yep I’ve listened to this record that much.
Kleenex Girl Wonder – Let It Buffer (This Will Be Our Summer)
I had thought this band had disappeared back in the early 00s but in 2011 I discovered they had never stopped, but it was just their records were being self-released to little fanfare. That same year I booked them to play the final Athens PopFest and the new songs they played blew me away like it was the days of Ponyoak (the band’s most successful and, at that point, brilliant album that had everyone claiming they had Guided by Voices pop potential). Soon after their set a friend stepped up to put out their newest album Let It Buffer and it’s one of those times where I kick myself for not releasing it myself. Pop songs for days and so many double-meaning lyrics you’ll be doing research non-stop to figure out what it all means.
Scout Niblett – It’s Up To Emma (Drag City)
I have been a fan of Scout Niblett since about 2005 where I had the chance to witness her two-piece live show play quieter-louder and just blow every full band off the stage one night at a local festival. I was unaware of her before then, and have made the effort to not miss a note ever since. It’s Up To Emma is all about space. The space we fill, the space inside us, the space in between the notes, the space between the things we do and the times we do them. Sometimes like her live show it’s quiet, other times it’s loud. She sings of pain, joy and the times where there is nothing at all. I can’t listen to this album unless it’s late at night or early in the morning, ’cause normal daylight doesn’t do it justice.
Multiple Cat – The Return Of (Future Appletree)
Another band on my list that I didn’t think would ever exist again, and then this record showed up in my mailbox. Multiple Cat were your typical American mid 90s alt rock pop band (Poster Children, Tripmaster Monkey, Velvet Crush… and the list goes on and on). They had records filled with songs that could have all been singles and they had that regional or college radio appeal but never broke big. The alternative music wasteland is filled with these bands. The ones that should have been huge, but didn’t have the right people behind them. This band have picked up right where they left off. The best part of getting this record in was the fact it made me get out all my old Multiple Cat singles as well and I still love them the way I did then.
Dead Dog – Precious Child (Dead Broke Rekerds)
My favorite crusty denim-wearing party punks Dead Dog have gone and embraced big production and it so works for them. Gone are the days of scuzz and fuzz and it’s time for super-clean guitar tones, vocals to the front, and the best drum sound they have ever had. The band have always flirted with 90s rock sounds but more in the early stages of the Chapel Hill scene with maybe two layers of cassette generation tape dubbing hiss on top, but now they come off like a more rockin’ Muffs, and tough version of That Dog. This album comes at the right time as the perfect send-off to a band I’m proud to call my friends as I’ve watched them all move away from Athens one by one. I was the guy working the counter at Wuxtry when they brought their first album in and within a few minutes of placing a copy on the turntable I was a fan. I’ve watched this band grow, and at first this record came off as super-slick compared to their other releases, but this is maybe how it should have been all along.