Friday, January 25, 2013

A Difficult 2012—Are You Local?

I picked up some rad stuff from local talent this year, either at gigs or through Bandcamp. These are in no particular order because I try not to play favourites with my hometown heroes...although if a Difficult Music site search resulted in a dozen separate instances of "favourite local band," I wouldn't be surprised, nor would I feel bad. This is my only outlet for civic pride, really. That all this talent can emerge from a city so antithetical to the performing arts amazes me.

Weirding—Each Birth is a New Disaster LP
The hard-copy version of their Bandcamp crusher from last year proves that only doom (and vinyl) is real.

Anciients—Snakebeard 7-inch (War On Music)
The two huge, intricately riffed-but-accessible songs that started it all for Anciients, finally released on vinyl (I got a brown one). The artwork is by Cam Strudwick of Burning Ghats, of whom you'll hear more later.

Galgamex—Cult ov Death (Bandcamp)
Galgamex are freakishly extreme. On stage they're a blur of brutality. You can't figure out what's going on; you just know it's really impressive. This release renders their sound with pornographic clarity. Every greasy crevice is revealed. This 25 minutes of frantic, hammer-smashing death metal is the perfect blend of cruelty and precision, mixing Euro-death riffs and leads with Pacific NW hesher fukk-it-all desperation.

Jeff Younger—Devil Loops Volume 2
"Cavernous drones, cosmic reverberations, industrial scrapings, video game bleepblorps, and tiny insect noises fade in, mingle, then fade away" on this collection of live-to-tape loop excursions from jazz adventurer Jeff Younger.

AurochFrom Forgotten Worlds (Hellthrasher Productions promo)
Furious death metal trio unleashes hell on this full length. The material manages to be both memorable and evil, while their dual vocal attack ramps up the chaotic atmosphere.

My friend Ian gave me this two-song tape from this new band. Percheron reminds me a bit of my old favourites Radiogram. Their back-to-basics sound, complete with fiddles and banjos, arrives at a kind of downcast country music that helps one feel good about feeling bad. It's all about the benefits of putting on some Conway Twitty and climbing into a bottle for a long, lonely night.

Burning Ghats—Different Names for the Same Face 7-inch
Although these punk/grind berserkers should have a new album out this year, I got caught up with them on this 2011 release that I picked up at one of their shows. Five songs and great packaging—high joltage grind and roll. With two years of gigs behind them since this came out, Burning Ghats should be set to slay. Their full length joins the Anciients and Baptists records as my most anticipated local releases of 2013.

Hierarchies—Intergalactic Light/Computer Controlled (Bandcamp)
Electronic duo Hierarchies issued a couple of gauzy transmissions late this year. Totalling just 14 minutes—quite terse for the genre—these two tracks thrum with beauty and mystery, like lovelorn android daydreams uploaded direct to tape.

The Nautilus—The Nautilus EP (Bandcamp)
This band are too much. Like Galgamex, when seeing them live, there's too much to take in. It's all spasmodic distorto/destructo Voivod-Fripp skronk demo derby action played by regular-looking dudes. Now they can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home with this well-produced three-song EP, which reveals them as a pummeling, albeit prog-twisted, METAL band. Get on this; they'll be topping bills by next year, I bet.

Black Wizard—Mountain Bitch 7-inch
Got these tunes off their Bandcamp, but I need a real copy of this ASAP. Did I see something about Black Sabbath putting out an album this year? Whatever. Listen to this instead.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Difficult 2012—Concerts

Our still-awesome, still-improving local scene provided most of my live action in 2012. Local promoters Nothing Is Heavy arrived and immediately set new standards for killer bills comprising either the cream of local bands or combining touring and local acts. Not into forking out for arena shows anymore, I ended up in GM Place/Rogers Arena exactly twice: once for being an unwitting extra for a Metallica movie, and once for an amazing, unhinged night with Neil Young and Crazy Horse. All in all, I’d rather just go to the Rickshaw.

1. Heart, August 18, PNE
This concert was better than it had any right to be. I had low expectations. It was a free show on the opening day of the Pacific National Exhibition. We hemmed and hawed about getting a good vantage point, not willing to park in a spot for five hours like other fairgoers clearly were. We ended up a good distance away from the side of the stage, drummer out of sight, surrounded by complainy soccer moms, and reliant on jumbotrons to view all the action. But the joyful professionalism of Heart overcame all that. Maybe they were relieved to be in the cool Vancouver air—away from the oppressive heat south of the border—in their adopted hometown, but they did indeed “kick it out” and entertain with a verve I’d never have expected from a band pumping out all the old hits on the summer fair circuit. It was a bombardment of FM dial classics: “Magic Man,” a couple power ballads, album cuts like “Heartless,” a Zeppelin cover, and “Barracuda” in case your face wasn’t already melted. The Wilson sisters rule.

2. Neil Young and Crazy Horse, November 11, Rogers Arena
3. Dysrhythmia/Dog Shredder, October 26, Iron Road Studios
4. Accept, September 21, Rickshaw Theatre
5. Six Organs of Admittance, October 2, Waldorf
6. Napalm Death, November 9, Rickshaw Theatre
7. Anciients, March 23, Rickshaw Theatre
8. Black Wizard/Occult SS, etc., October 5, Rickshaw Theatre
9. Barn Owl, November 10, VIVO Media Arts Centre
10. Diecember Fest (night one with The Nautilus, Astrakhan, etc.) Dec. 6, Rickshaw Theatre
11. Darkroom Alchemy II (with Hoopsnake, Chapel), November 17, Interurban
12. Cormorant/Young Hunter, June 9, The Shakedown (Bellingham)
13. Shooting Guns, June 15, Pat’s Pub
14. Helms Alee/Thrones, April 1, Iron Road
15. Mares of Thrace/Anion/Weirding April 27, Funky’s