Sunday, January 6, 2019


I sure don't post much of anything anymore but the end-of-year best-of list is one you can count on like death and taxes! Now, normally I reserve this first space to ballyhoo about my own personal releases that came out during the year in question. Well, goddamn if I didn't release ONE THING in 2018! For absolute shame. Not for lack of trying, in some instances. Just, y'know, life and shit. The current state of some of my respective projects is as such - GREATHUNTER played many shows this year, both in and out of Ottawa and we're well on our way to having a new EP or possibly a full-length started this year. HAMN didn't do much but we are about 80% finished our 2nd EP which will definitely see a 2019 release. COASTAL PIGS played a bunch and, as per usual, we have many songs in waiting. Some have already been recorded and mixed and some are brand new. WORLD WAR 4....played a few shows. Always fun. PRAYER WHEELS has a stellar new EP in the works. Vocals to be done, that's it. And, of course, I did just put out a new TSTAT EP. On January 1st though, so I'll be talking about that again in about 12 months time. Suffice to say, 2019 should prove to be pretty productive. Onto some info about some real bands....

As per usual, these are in no particular order. Here we go...

1) PORTAL - ION "There really is no other band quite like PORTAL. A new release from them is a very special occasion indeed. As truly fucked-up as their music is, I can't help but think there's something wrong with fans of heavy music who aren't totally into them. I'M not crazy, YOU GUYS are all crazy!"

2) MARK RENNER - FEW TRACES "I came across this via an article about MARK HOLLIS of TALK TALK and his defection from music. In the sidebar, there was a related article about this fellow MARK RENNER who, very quietly and very independently, released his own music throughout the 80s. It went completely unnoticed and he divorced himself from music completely. Fast forward to this year when a compilation of his stuff was put out by RVNG INTL. This interesting tale compelled me to check out the man's music and it is just lovely. RED HOUSE PAINTERS meets THE DURUTTI COLUMN type stuff."

3) THOU - MAGUS / THE HOUSE PRIMORDIAL / INCONSOLABLE / RHEA SYLVIA "So Thou went and released one full-length and 3 EPs this year. Every single one is amazing and every single one sounds like a different band. These guys do not give a shit in the best way possible. But damn, that's a lot of music! Should I take a week off work to soak it all in?!"

4) DREAMSHELL - JOY DIVISION / YOU CAN CRY "I probably listened to these 2 songs more than anything else this year. These local-to-Ottawa guys have the shoegaze/dreampop thing sewn up tight. Beautiful guitar textures and incredible vocals."

5) DEAFHEAVEN - ORDINARY CORRUPT HUMAN LOVE "Nowhere near as thrashy as their last release. The blast beats and metal guitars are there but much more subdued. Makes for many more textures. I think the back-half of the song HONEYCOMB is the best thing they've ever done."

6) NOTHING - DANCE ON THE BLACKTOP "After being COMPLETELY blown away by TIRED OF TOMORROW, I had super high expectations for this. While it does not disappoint, it really doesn't hit me the way their aforementioned ToT does. That said, in and of itself, it is gorgeous."

7) NO JOY - NO JOY / SONIC BOOM "A very cool collaboration. Hard to tell who brought what to the table. It's basically NO JOY with a super-mellow, electronic slant. Very nice."

8) KEN mode - LOVED "An album I was looking forward to as much as, if not more than, the NOTHING album. In this case, my expectations were met and surpassed. This fucking thing RIPS!!!! Not a wasted moment. Also wins a bonus prize for best lyric of the year - 'Just because no one else is talking/doesn't mean you need to be'. So good."

9) NINE INCH NAILS - BAD WITCH "NIN's consistent output of quality stuff over the past few years has been a head-scratcher to say the least. Not that they're terrible or anything (although they certainly can be at times), just to step it up this late in the game is pretty unusual. This album though, damn! I couldn't stop listening to it. So good! Also, here's something I love. It's an album. It has 7 songs. Not an EP. That is awesome. Less is more. 12 songs? Who needs em!?!?"

10) SECT PIG - CROOKED BACKS "I don't remember who told me about this band. I mention that because there's very little chance you'd come across this by chance. I guess, in a very broad sense, it's black metal. It's also quite fucked. Very lo-fi, very noisy, very repetitive and very and strange. I could imagine most fans of metal hating this stuff. In an unrelated note, most metal bands are longwinded, boring garbage."

11) NOT OF - HYPOCRITIC OATH "Super-catchy noise rock. Nice balance between catchy/hooky and dissonant cacophony. Shades of SIX FINGER SATELLITE."

12) BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW - PANIC BLOOMS "Discovering this band a few years ago (via my buddy/bandmate MIKE) was like finding the perfect pair of shoes (ones that never stop changing colour). This album is basically just more of their specific brand of lo-fi, psychedelic awesomeness. Perfect, in other words."

13) THE FINAL AGE. - S/T "My buddy JEFF pointed me in the direction of these guys. I believe it's a side-project from the drummer of ANTHROPROPHH. A sweet collection of psych/motorik jams. Sounds somewhat improvisational but the tunes never outstay their welcome."

14) THE DIRTY NIL - MASTER VOLUME. "When I see pictures of these guys, I really feel like I should stick to my own boring, old music, k grandpa? But dammital, these whippersnappers can write a catchy tune. And the vocals? Ugh! The perfect melding of singing/screaming. Lil punks. I bet they do drugs and kiss girls and shit."

15) THE GREAT SABATINI - GOODBYE AUDIO "Been a fan of these guys for years now, been lucky enough to share the stage with them a couple of times. I've always enjoyed their stuff but, on this album, they've really raised the bar. So much of it just hits the nail right on the head. Super sludgey and heavy but damn catchy at the same time. Runner up for best lyric of the year - 'I'm a sensitive FUCKING artist!'. Indeed."

16) DEAD SEA APES & ADAM STONE - WARHEADS "Awesome collection of sounds here. One minute post-punk, the next a 10 minute psychedelic exploration. Bleak and humorous at the same time."

17) VOIVOD - THE WAKE "An incredible release, especially considering how late in the game it is for these guys. They've certainly had their ups and downs, musically speaking, so a quality album is not always guaranteed. No two ways about this one though - they swung for the fences and scored big time. This is super heavy on the DIMENSION HATROSS vibe with shades of other releases (NOTHINGFACE, ANGEL RAT) thrown in. I'm so glad this band still exists and I'm even more glad that they're still awesome."

18) HUMANITIES - UNNATURAL HISTORIES "A fantastic group of people making incredible music. Another band I've been fortunate enough to play many a show with. I had a feeling that they were gonna come out with an even better release than their first EP (which, don't get me wrong, is awesome) and they did just that. Still the same 90s post-hardcore slant but with an interesting blend of 80s post-punk/goth."

19) FAILURE - IN THE FUTURE YOUR BODY WILL BE THE FURTHEST THING FROM YOUR MIND "My initial reaction to this (and all post-reunion FAILURE for that matter) had been pretty 'whatever'. My theory here is that they, as songwriters, have matured whilst I, as a FAILURE fan, have not. I want more MAGNIFIED, is what I'm saying. Anyways, as they doled out the EPs that eventually made up this album, I kept listening. And kept listening. Some real good songs on here. As a whole, it really works for me. It ain't the classic stuff, but it is damn good."

20) UNIFORM - THE LONG WALK "More amazingly overdriven post-punk with an industrial edge to it from this duo. This would probably sound like R.E.M. if you canceled out all the distortion. I tried and failed to see them this past year."

21) DEATHSTICKS - DEATHSNACKS "I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with this local-to-Ottawa duo earlier this year. They became one of my new favourite bands about halfway through their set. This release is a 2-song single but the CD (which I ordered from them via bandcamp and they responded by personally dropping it into my mailbox) compiles many other tunes from past releases. Seriously weird noise-rock/hardcore. Kinda funky in places. Lots of old-school BUTTHOLE SURFERS vibes here and there. Very cool."

22) BUMMER - HOLY TERROR "An awesome blend of noise-rock and sludge-metal. Super catchy and anthemic. Great big stinky riffs."

23) PHLEG CAMP - BRAVE NEW WAVES SESSION "A nice lil blast from the past from an incredible band that never really got their due. This recording is from the early 90s. Portions of it have been released before but never the full recording. Now we have it and it is glorious. Thanks eh, CBC!!!"

24) PERHAPS - HEXAGON "I came across this thanks to FRIDAY MORNING CAR-TUNES (hosted by JOHN WESTHAVER on CKCU every Friday from 9:30am til 1pm). Very cool blend of psych and motorik."

25) EMMA RUTH RUNDLE - ON DARK HORSES "I've been seeing this pop up on more than a few best-of-2018 lists. It confuses me as to why. Not because of how this album sounds but by some of the unremarkable garbage it's surrounded by on said lists. I guess she's achieved a certain badge of coolness, which is good because her music is amazing and should be checked out by many people."

26) HELLFIRE DEATHCULT - BLACK DEATH TERRORISTIC ONSLAUGHT "I came across this just through hitting the old "Fans Also Like" button on Spotify over and over again. This band is like PORTAL with one foot stuck in reality. Most of the metal that gets championed lately is so boring. Way too clean and way too long-winded. This recording is, I'll admit, absolutely ridiculous. But awesome at the same time. I'll take this super-sloppy, overdriven shit over some 5 - 7 minute black metal opus. Stop pretending that shit is awesome."

27) DEVIL MASTER - MANIFESTATIONS "A very strange recording. Elements of old school thrash/death with a guitar style that verges on post-punk/goth. The vocals are drowned in reverb. To describe this as 'heavy' would be a bit of a stretch but it definitely has a lot of those elements. I kept coming back to this just because it had a sound that was so compelling."

28) CITY HUNTER - DEEP BLOOD "Hardcore/grindcore with a serious obsession with 80s slasher movies. The song titles and the packaging and the entire presentation would be right at home sitting in the horror section at VIDEOFLICKS."

29) APHEX TWIN - COLLAPSE EP "More reliably awesome tunes from MR. JAMES. No end in sight to his genius, it would seem!"

30) HENRY BLACKER - THE MAKING OF JUNIOR BONNER "I've been super into this band since I heard their 1st album a few years ago. This, their 3rd, is more of the same good stuff - super-sludgey riffs upon riffs, 70s SABBATH style. Cool vocals too, always with the same weird harmonizing effect on them."

31) GREBER - CEMETERY PRESTON "A fantastic duo, bass and drums, not to mention dual vocals. Super feral, aggressive as all hell. Seeing them live is the aural equivalent of being beaten to a pulp. They're also 2 of the sweetest guys you'll ever meet. It's awesome when you have friends who make incredible music."


There were a few bands who had releases out this year where I thought it would be a no-brainer as far as enjoyment went. The AMEN DUNES album did absolutely nothing for me. I've enjoyed his stuff a lot in the past but with this one, I went from ignoring it to being annoyed by it. People were flipping out over the return of DAUGHTERS, another band whose past releases I am still super into. Nope. I don't hear it. And that UNCLE ACID album. Another solid band with solid releases, especially their last one (NIGHT CREEPER). This new one, it ain't bad but there's just nothing on there that sticks out. And finally, HIGH ON FIRE - is there really any point anymore? Their albums are interchangeable. I hate to say it but we all know it's true. Happy new year.

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