This TSTAT website thing that nobody is reading right now was fairly quiet for the vast majority of 2017. Not much to say, as per usual. Musically, however, it's been a pretty busy year (for me, at least). Two TSTAT releases as well as a few others in my various musical endevours. Here's what saw the light of day in 2017 that involved the person typing this out right now - me.
1) THE SUN THROUGH A TELESCOPE - BLACK HOLE SMILE "There is a specific demon residing in my subconsciousness that is made up of equal parts PINK FLOYD - THE WALL, VOIVOD - DIMENSION HATROSS and QUEENSRYCHE - OPERATION MINDCRIME. So this particular release was a concept-album exorcism of sorts. Insanely self-indulgent, to be sure. If you hate this, that's probably a normal reaction. I had a lot of fun putting it together and I am going to have even more fun never doing something like this again."
2) THE SUN THROUGH A TELESCOPE - IV BLACK DRONES "An EP that kind of goes back to the vibe of the ORANGE and GREEN / BLACK EPs. It's free. Enjoy."
3) COASTAL PIGS - BECOMES A SCENE, BECOMES THE NOTHING "JEFF KAINZ is the singer/guitarist of this band and is also the sole songwriter. I am constantly blown away by his incredible sense of melody and his ability to turn abstract noise into a catchy hook. This album represents about half the songs we recorded so definitely more to come."
4) GREATHUNTER - PREY "This project comprises songs written by ANDREW GROSVENOR (who also joins me in the grunge/sludge trio HAMN). We collaborated to expand a bunch of his primarily acoustic demos into the electronic/orchestrated songs you hear on this release."
That's it for tooting my own horn (someone's gotta do it). Now onto the good stuff....
1) THEY GRIEVE - I MADE MY SACRIFICE ACCORDINGLY EP "A fantastic first release from an Ottawa-based duo, both of whom were formerly part of the crushingly heavy ALASKAN (RIP). This band crushes as well but in a slightly different way. Some truly lovely interludes to offset the 100 tons of heaviness."
2) CODE ORANGE - FOREVER "I had to double-check that this album wasn't actually a pile of shit, based solely on the fact that the douchiest dum-dums in the world were championing it. Nope, still awesome. Just goes to show that a good idea can come from just about anywhere (ie: even from out of the pie-hole of a total wanker)."
3) BAD BREEDING - DIVIDE "UK hardcore done awesome. Political and pissed. I wouldn't normally go for such a thing but their sound is so visceral, it just commands my attention."
4) PISSED JEANS - WHY LOVE NOW "Another fantastic release from this band. Brutish yet catchy. Some seriously funny lyrics too, something I normally couldn't care less about."
5) UNIFORM - WAKE IN FRIGHT "This band is like a nightmare version of SUICIDE. Production-wise, it's a "this-is-meant-to-sound-dirt-cheap" approach, which works very much in their favour."
6) JAPANDROIDS - NEAR TO THE WILD HEART OF LIFE "You know that scene in Uncle Buck where he's at the party, looking for his missing niece? That's basically how I feel when I listen to music like this. That said, the songs are insanely catchy and super well-written. Why are they so obsessed with drinking? Tia? TIA! Has anyone seen my niece?!"
7) FULL OF HELL - TRUMPETING ECSTASY "An onslaught of riffs, riffs, riffs. This album goes by quick which is perfect. Music like this should not overstay its welcome. Only lets up very briefly around the end with some interesting sound collage and angelic vocals. I welcome this form of insanity."
8) ELDER - REFLECTIONS OF A FLOATING WORLD "I'd heard a few of their past releases and nothing really gelled with me. This album, however, is incredibly rewarding. Many different shades of stoner and psych rock."
9) NO JOY - CREEP EP "This band is one of my 2 favourite active Canadian bands (the other is KEN mode). Their take on shoegaze or dreampop or whatever is amazing, always a soaring chorus to look forward to. Also, a bit of a dip into the hardcore/metal pool on this release which is kind of fun and unexpected (but makes perfect sense)."
10) BORIS - DEAR "This is a heavy and doomy one from BORIS, which is always good. I also enjoy their deviations into J-Pop. They basically own any genre they try their collective hand at."
11) HUMANITIES / LOW SUN - HUMAN SUN EP "Two fantastic Toronto bands. An inaugural release from LOW SUN (formerly SHAHMAN, whose praises I have sang many times over the years) and a sophomore release from HUMANITIES. A lot of the best parts of the 90s alt-rock / post-punk era are represented here and then some."
12) LOW SUN - RESERVOIR OF IMPERTINENT BLISS "A few songs that can also be found on the release above plus a bunch more. Soothing and unsettling, all at once."
13) FLYING FORTRESS - BITCHWIND "This release was many moons in the making and I'm so glad it finally saw the light of day this year. A super-original mix of heavy rock, thrash, hardcore and classic rock. I was lucky enough to get to sit in on the drumkit for one show with them. It damn near killed me."
14) WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM - THRICE WOVEN "A shining example of black metal done right in a sea of bands working off the same boring template. Many twists and turns on this release, well worth sitting through (makes it sound like a chore but hey, free time is a hard thing to come by, ya know?!?)."
15) CONVERGE - THE DUSK IN US "I probably listened to this album more than any that came out this year. It's a fuckin ripper, plain and simple. I haven't cared for anything they've put out since NO HEROES but this one is up there with their best stuff. Kudos to JACOB BANNON for adding several different aspects to his vocal approach this late in the bands' career while simultaneously not abandoning his familiar, please-help-me-I'm-on-fire vocalizations."
16) PHARMAKON - CONTACT "More nightmare music from MARGARET CHARDIET. A million times scarier than any of the aforementioned black metal bozos."
17) DARK PLAINS - 00001 "An Ottawa band made up of members of some truly legendary 90s bands (OKARA and SHOTMAKER, among others). I told the drummer, after witnessing their live show for the first time, 'I'm so glad you're still playing THIS kind of music!'"
18) BISON - YOU ARE NOT THE OCEAN YOU ARE THE PATIENT "Very excited to finally get another release from this band. A treasure chest of riffs. They have the unique ability to turn a seemingly stock-in-trade sounding guitar part into the freshest thing you ever heard. How?!?!"
19) CRYSTAL FAIRY - S/T "I generally have at least one MELVINS album on my list as they average between 1 to 3 releases a year. That said, their latest offerings haven't been blowing me away. This album (featuring BUZZO and DALE, along with TERI GENDER BENDER of LES BUTCHERETTES and OMAR RODRIGUEZ-LOPEZ of THE MARS VOLTA) more than makes up for it. Amazing riffs and amazing vocals. Awesome rock."
20) POWER TRIP - NIGHTMARE LOGIC "This one seems to be topping everyone's lists this year but, what can I say? I guzzled the Kool Aid on this one. It was the flavour of nonstop riffage. What else could I do?"
21) JK FLESH - SUICIDE ESTATE ANTIBIOTIC ARMAGEDDON "JUSTIN BROADRICK as evil old-school hip-hop/electro DJ. That description alone should warrant a listen."
22) METZ - STRANGE PEACE "Another home run from these guys. I often find myself going 'Oh, why didn't I think of that?' throughout their albums. They make this noise rock thing look easy."
23) PRIMITIVE MAN - CAUSTIC "Absolutely crushing doom metal. As dark and noisy as doom metal can get, I'd say. Very dense and very unsettling."
24) KRALLICE - GO BE FORGOTTEN "A consistently great band with an awesome twist on black metal. They'll never be a favourite of mine but I feel like they can always be counted on for an awesome release."
25) MUTOID MAN - WAR MOANS "3rd time's a charm for this band. An awesome blend of thrash and classic metal stuff. Very speedy but very melodic as well. AGENT STEEL anyone?"
26) ELECTRIC WIZARD - WIZARD BLOODY WIZARD "Nothing new here, just more consistently twisted explorations of 70s style heavy rock. The less-is-more approach of only including 6 songs is a good one, I think. It allows each song to be a standout and the album isn't overly long because of it."
27) CHROME - TECHROMANCY "It's always cool to get some new music from HELIOS CREED but this album is about as close to the classic CHROME sound as you're gonna get. Three cheers to his backing band as they absolutely nailed the RED EXPOSURE / BLOOD ON THE MOON vibe."
28) PYRAMIDS OF SPACE - LIVE ON NEPTUNE "Came across this whilst cruising through the MORDANT MUSIC roster of late. It's minimalist and cold but fun and funky at the same time (the cool, dirty 70s version of funk)."
29) PATRICIA - SEVERAL SHADES OF THE SAME COLOR "Came across this whilst perusing the recent releases of a different record label (SPECTRAL SOUND this time). There's a serious APHEX vibe here but, more specifically, the AFX ANALOGUE BUBBLEBATH series. And that's just alright by me."
30) BLANK SUN - S/T "An Ottawa based electronic musician/producer who normally operates under the SBSST moniker. I almost get a vibe of the early PLASTIKMAN stuff from this. Hard to say whether it's dark or not, kind of right on the cusp. Very cool, nonetheless."
31) FRET - OVER DEPTH "After a decade-plus hiatus from producing any music, MICK HARRIS returns with some more of his patented nightmare dance-music. I've been a huge fan of SCORN for years so I couldn't be happier that he's back at it."
32) GODFLESH - POST SELF "More from JUSTIN BROADRICK. The last GODFLESH release was quite good but I think this one is even better. He really wears his love of all things KILLING JOKE on his sleeve on this."
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: DEAD RANCH, THE WAR ON DRUGS, CLOUD NOTHINGS, KING WOMAN, UNEARTHLY TRANCE, QUICKSAND, SLOWDIVE, NO MISTAKES IN SPACE, SABBATH ASSEMBLY, MONADS
That ULVER album....man, I really tried (almost listened to the whole thing) but it's just not doing it for me. Very well done but not my cup of tea. QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE have proven themselves, once again, to be completely worthless (other than that first album and some tunes here and there). I felt the RUN THE JEWELS album was severely lacking in awesomeness. Not half as good as their last album. Lastly, may I just say that my prediction of MIKE PATTON being the thing that completely ruined DEAD CROSS couldn't have been more on the money. As talented of a vocalist as he is, he just does NOT understand how to approach that kind of music. Just stand back and let the riffs do the talking, dude! Even double-tracking is overkill! Happy new year.