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Both Bars On: Top 20 Records of 2012

BBO album of the year

Yes, that’s right dear reader: such was the overwhelming amount of top music this year we’ve given our end-of-year list a dose of max enlargement pills and extended it to a mighty top twenty.

Those that didn’t make this engorged run-down and hence reside in our honourable bubbling under category include: Swans – The Seer; Toy – Toy; Monolake – Ghosts; White Manna – White Manna; Easter – Innocence Man; Bass Clef – Reeling Skullways; Umberto – Night Has A Thousand Screams; The Eccentronic Research Council – 1612 Underture; and Mouse on Mars – Parastrophics.

A special mention goes to British Sea Power’s EPs 1-6. Well it wouldn’t be one of our lists without them, would it? If we could have counted these as one album it would have made the top five. Obviously.

So here it is, Merry Listmas. Everybody’s having fun (somewhere else).

20. Eat Light Become Lights – Heavy Electrics

19. Alexander Tucker – Third Mouth

18. White Hills – Frying On This Rock

17. Fanfarlo – Rooms Filled With Light

16. Wishmountain – Tesco

15. Drokk – Music Inspired by Mega-City One

14. Mugstar – Axis

13. Fighting Kites – Fighting Kites

12. Belbury Poly – The Belbury Tales

11. Euros Childs – Summer Special

10. Egyptology – The Skies

The Skies

This analogue symphony had us frothing on about ancient astronauts and the geomancy of Giza back in July. It’s still taking us somewhere weird and wonderful. The best of the seemingly never-ending fascination with old synths and arpeggiators that pervades the world of electronica. Long may this fascination continue.

Orbis (Live):

9. Deerhoof – Breakup Song

11183_lpjacket

All over the shop, but in a good way, Deerhoof’s Breakup Song threw all kinds of idea together to make another off-kilter pop hit. Needs to be played loud.

‘Fête d’Adieu’:

8. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

godspeed

It came from nowhere, and nowhere on BBO will you find the review this album richly deserves. Yet it does exactly what you want a Godspeed! album to do, and then some. Colossal drones, magisterial builds and releases, and immense noise, all suffused with a politics for those that know.

‘Mladic’:

7. Bill Fay – Life is People

billfay.11298alt

Two astonishing albums at the start of the 1970s and then another one in 2012. The voice is warmer, but even more haunted, and Fay’s conviction still burns through as clearly as it ever has: “I personally need to believe that this world just can’t go on and on and on in the way that it goes.”

‘Be At Peace With Yourself’:

6. Beak > – >>

Beak

A marvellous pulsing head throb of analog musings and music from this threesome. Retro-futurism might not be a thing, but this sounds so extra-temporal we can’t help looking at the future through the past (and often vice-versa). If we had a record label of the year award it would probably go to Invada Records as well.

‘Mono’ (Ok, not technically on the album, but it’s a cracker):

5. Fang Island – Major

Major

Like a cheeky-monkey off its bits on riffs. With shit-eating gurns and post-ironic chest bumps all round, Major is always there for the dark days and the light days. Simply…YES!

‘Asunder’:

‘Sisterly’:

4. Plank! – Animalism

Animalism

Owls and pigs. Owls, pigs and fighting ferrets. Animalism  is nothing short of an extraordinary debut of Neu-proggish grooves and looped noodling and funk. Looked into the Owl’s eyes and agree. You now agree.

‘Dying for Pigs’:

‘King Rat I, II, III’:

3. Sweet Billy Pilgrim – Crown and Treaty

sbp

Prog, pop, country – Sweet Billy Pilgrim will do you an album containing all of those elements, and live they’ll throw in an a cappella version of ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ just to keep you guessing. Crown and Treaty is the sound of a great, genuinely original, band still discovering what they’re capable of.

‘Archaeology’:

‘Brugada’:

2. Bob Mould – Silver Age

bobmould

Ignore those people who tell you this is a ‘return to form’ – the amazing thing about Bob Mould is not that he’s produced an album reminiscent of the best of the Sugar records, but that he’s been writing songs this good since the early 1980s.

‘The Descent’:

‘Star Machine’:

1. Goat – World Music

World Music

The hype realised for once. An album that possesses you. We called it a transnational psyche agenda for the weird underground and we stand by these words. Syncretic brilliance. Stunning.

‘Disco Fever’:

‘Goatman’:

Det Som Aldrig Förändras/Diarabi:

A massive thanks to everyone who has supported us, read these ramblings and listened to anything we’ve recommended this year. You probably will never know how much we appreciate it.

Want more recommendations? We’re available on Twitter and Facebook to annoy you further.

jkneale and angrybonbon

[All of these lovely records are available from shops – independent ones, big shiny ones, online ones (who pay their tax), ones where there isn’t really a shop but you have to email some bloke. We like buying records – actually, we really do. And we think you should too, so if you like any of this and haven’t already bought them, go on! They’ll be cheap by now]

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Dead but dreaming…

Here at BBO we like a bit of All Hallow’s Eve, Samhain or Hop-tu-naa. We like it when the veil thins between this and the other world. So grab a bit of Machen, Blackwood, Le Fanu or Lovecraft, close the curtains, light the candles and wrap your ears round these.

Oh, and if any young guttersnipe comes ringing to trick or to treat, invite them in and read this article (in its entirety) to give them some historical perspective on their misdoings. They might not leave with ‘candy’, but you will have learned them something.

Fantômas – Rosemary’s Baby

Misfits – Halloween

The Birthday Party – Release the Bats

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath

Fantômas – The Devil Rides Out (Remix)

John Carpenter – Halloween (Main Theme)

Alexander Tucker – SuperherderFurrowed Brow

angrybonbon and JKneale

Teeth Of The Sea: Orphaned By The Ocean

totsobto

A combined gig and album review, this, after a trip to the Old Blue Last, Shoreditch, for the launch of Teeth Of The Sea‘s debut, Orphaned By The Ocean. Since this was a free performance with two great supports, Big Naturals and Alexander Tucker, the upstairs room was absolutely packed out. Big Naturals – just a drummer and a bassist – lurched from post-rock to more obviously hardcore, metal and avant-garde sounds and are highly recommended. As is Alexander Tucker, doing deceptively complicated things with loops of acoustic sounds and vocals, ending up holding your attention even amongst a pack of muttering Shoreditchians. Must get some of his stuff.

But I was there because Varyl had read Julian Cope’s glowing endorsement of Teeth Of The Sea’s debut and was swayed by the Arch Drude’s opinion: “this Viking Mosh is a truly essential purchase and a saga that will last year round, freshening your room with lager light wherever it may be”. Now I’m pretty wet behind the ears when it comes to this kind of stuff – I couldn’t name a single one of the Krautrock/Japrock/drone tracks the DJ was playing between the bands, unlike Varyl – but TOTS were great. Lots of drones and atmospheric, doomy noise, but with added Morricone soundtrack trumpet. ‘Only Fools On Horse’ is an early frontrunner for the BBO Songtitle of the Year award, and possibly a sitcom about Peckham smackheads, but the standouts for me were ‘Latin Inches’, which turns into a very freaked-out dub, ‘Swear Blind The Alsatian’s Melting’, which starts with woozy trumpet and develops into something very heavy indeed, and finally the brilliant ‘Sentimental Journey’, which smoothly shifts from ‘menacing’ through ‘exhilarating’ to ‘terrifying’ over the course of seven minutes. It’s certainly made my journey to work much more ominous than it usually is.

The CD has all this and another three tracks and I’ve played it to death since wednesday. Definitely worth tracking down.

Sentimental Journey‘ – Teeth Of The Sea – Orphaned By The Ocean (Rocket Recordings)

Buy from Cargo Records.

JKneale

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