Shawn Reed's Night People imprint has long been a the go-to resort for consistently amazing weirdo psych balladry,ambiguous and noise-inflicted pop and dark, inverted Americana. Reed's also pretty zoned in on both older Australian proto-punk and recent no-fi pop like Naked On The Vague (who his Wet Hair project just did an almost ridiculously good split with) or The Twerps and Knitted Abyss who've seen release on NP. This is a list in no particular order of his favourite bands and records from this year.
Les Rallizes Denudes - Heavier than a Death in the Family
Finally after years of waiting and thinking this might someday make a vinyl appearance it does, Denudes was great and so many of the recordings are great but this is my favorite and I was so happy to finally be able to listen to it on vinyl. Maybe the coolest motherfuckers of all time, aesthetically flawless in all aspects.
Phantom Payn Days - Phantom Payn Daze
When I found out this was getting put out by killer Minneapolis label De Stijl, I couldn't wait. Phantom Payn is Juergen Gleue from the German group 39 Clocks and this is his final long lost never released solo LP. I like 39 Clocks alot but love the Phantom Payn even more. I don't even want to bother describing this, just buy it and listen to it endlessly all winter get depressed and loose your mind.
Chrisma - Chinese Resturants
This reissue came out recently. This is the first record by this Italian band and originally came out in 77 and is a killer mix of synthpunk, prog, and Euro electro pop. New wave before the new wave basically and its really good and stands ahead of alot of the syth punk/pop, cold wave etc. reissues coming out right now. You can tell this band was influenced by Neu, Kraftwerk and the Kraut stuff in general as well.
MP3: Analogue Frequencies (Demo)
Goldendust is a new band from Iowa City, Joe and Justin who make up the band recently both finished up art school and moved to Iowa City and have really added alot to the local flavor of underground music here. There take on minimal synth, pop, synth punk, industrial etc, is refreshing and on its own trajectory towards something really great. The handful of local live shows they have played with Wet Hair, Fabulous Diamonds, and Grass Widow have been mesmerizing as well. Probably my favorite current band.
Circle Pit - Bruise Constellation
I was down under in Sydney this summer hanging out for a couple weeks and spent some time hanging out with Circle Pit and got fully turned on to there LP Bruise Constellation while driving around in the outback listening to it on a CDR rip. Recently Circle Pit did a big US tour and we got to hang out in the Midwest and play some shows together. Listening to this record, and thinking about how fun it is to hang out with this crew will be key in getting my heart and mind through the cold desolate Iowa winter that's already beating down on me. The song another trick is so good I could jam it all day and be fine with it.
Blanche Blanche Blanche
This is a new two piece band from Braterlboro VT. They sent me a demo in the mail a couple months ago and after a recent tour I finally had the chance to listen to it and I was really surprised at how great it is especially coming from such an unassuming package. I've been listening to this demo constantly, one of the best new things I've heard in awhile. Quirky DIY synth pop that has an original retro inspired feel thats different then anything else floating around right now.
Rene Hell - Porcelain Opera
This LP by Jeff Witscher is probably the peak thus far of his epic and prolific release discography stemming from tons of bands and solo projects. If you know Jeff you know he's hit the road hard over the years, never leaving a chunk of highway unvisited, a coast unseen, an adventure turned down and its really rad from a personal standpoint to see his music continually go to new levels and heights of sci fi synth bliss that sound as much from the streets as they do the stars.
Chrome Dome are from Melbourne Australia, I haven't seen them live yet unfortunately, but after ending up with a couple cassettes via my pal Matthew from Naked on the Vague, Chrome Dome have easily become one of my favorite current bands. They have a dreary icy psychedelic synth punk sound that hits pretty deep. The vocals are dry and cold with alot of dual female to male vocal overlapping, sort of done in a similar way to Naked on the Vague but really good none the less. I expect really good things from this band coming up.
This my old pal Jack Gilbert, who lived in Iowa City then moved back to Wales his land of origin and then to Portland OR recently to team back up with Jeff Witscher as they are a sort of a weirdo odd couple music team making strange jams under the alias of Downward Violent Eye. Baronic Wall recently did a release on the always excellent Goaty tapes called Traditional Appearance. The Tape is an excellent step up in production and composition for Baronic Wall. Totally weirdo manic sci fi synth punk, really pissed in sections. As with Rene Hell its awesome to see old friends take it the next level and just kill it.