First of all, I’d just like to say that two thousand and twelve was a great year not only for Dingus, but for the international DIY community as well. More and more we see bands from our ranks being given a shot at stardom through community involvement and platforming like Kickstarter. We see musicians picking up their guitars, happy just to make enough scratch for their next meal, going on self-supported tours just to spread the good word of Audio God. We got to see whether or not Bandcamp would become the staple for the DIY musician or flounder in a pile of crap (I’m happy to report the prior). We saw the electronic scene take to Soundcloud, a community that still leaves me slightly perplexed (leave it to L0pat0); and the most important part about all of this, is that these good guy companies have given musicians a platform to send their physical music all over their world. Here in New York City we saw the live emergence of a family of musicians that, as stated previously on this blog, proved that the party scene has not been lost to the clubs. This family (and don’t be surprised to see of a few of their records on this list): Mama Coco’s Funky Kitchen. To the Chefs, thank you. To all the other DIY labels bookmarked in my browser, thank you. To every band we booked, who agreed to play for love, thank you. To every band we covered, who took the time to thoughtfully write, produce and distribute their creative spirit, thank you. And, to the staff here at Dingus and over at The Snake Records (soon to be Dingus Records), thank you. Be sure to check our other top album lists by Leah Lovecat and Ashley Canino. 2013, watch your back.
20// 3.0 by Orxata Sound System (Valencia, Spain)
When it asks you to translate the page, don’t. Music is so much more, and like Chumbawamba originally brought us this slightly goofy, yet deadly serious brand of pop-rock-hip-hop/electronic-symphony, Orxata is carrying the torch deeper into the cave in search of elephants. Slithering through devilish rap spreads and exotic melodies that encourage masturbation, 3.0 (how original) just barely climbs it’s way onto this list and let me tell you, that’s only cause this was a damn fine year for the DIY scene. Representing my homeland, Spain, let it flow. Orgasme! Orgasme!
19// House of Ghosts by House of Ghosts (New York, New York)
For all intensive purposes, House of Ghosts is just a rock band. Yep, just a rock band doing their rock thing. A pent up ball of softly spoken, nearly whispered inner thoughts staring you down anticipating the right moment to strike. Melody, let’s not even. Production value, just listen, you’re not listening yet? Well get the fuck off my blog. I love this record, and I love it more when dropping it on the turn table. Being that love is a word I’m using a lot less commonly these days, take it as a sign, BUY THIS RECORD.
18// Artaud a tort by Pelvis Enragés (Paris, France)
Transcending the proverbial genre development, Pelvis Enragés delivered to us an EP of complete class (and so close to my birthday, daaaaammmmmnn). Let the tingle, tingle as rap verses spin into Tokyo Police Club-inspired, ear splitting and unrelenting lead synth melodies. Meant more as a piece of audio art, in my opinion, Artaud a tort is a develish as it sounds, provided I can’t read a word of French. Fuck you.
17// Fuck Everything I’m God by Air Tycoon (Morris, United States)
Technically Joseph Garcia, aka Air Tycoon, released his beat tape at the end of 2011, but do I care? No, because when I need to mop down a venue and get ready for a nights worth of festivities- I better be doing it dancing. Opening on a strong foot the entire album boarders on flawless, the only reason it’s sitting here at 17 is because I do feel a bit guilty for it’s previous year release date. If you’ve got the rhymes, this kids your producer; are you listening Drake? The synthetic curveball is a cocktail somewhat like in-vitro fertilization for the shakable limbs; one nostril cocaine, the other rides the horse: annnnnnd you’re up all night.
16// Small Town World by Marra Barr (New York, New York)
Hinting at a compositional integrity that gives authors high spirits for a new Spiritualized, Marra Barr knows how to harmonize and knows how to do it so that it gives your goose bumps. Although the EP sits as a short three track, there is more human heart here than Adele wishes she had. Digging further you’ll find influences along the lines of Waits- a deep bitter voice with something (I’ll have to figure it out later) to say.
15// Success by Napoleon (Brooklyn, New York)
Brooklyn locals Napoleon are hard at work on their second album but their first deserves all the praise in the world- all of it. Leading off with ‘Sarafan’ a single which stands alone as a testament to the bands creative spirit, Success is an album filled with turns that will keep you guessing. Stylistically dynamic- are words that come to mind when thinking about the many times I’ve personally seen this band play live in support of their record success.
14// Excavate by Life Size Maps (Brooklyn, New York)
One of Brooklyn’s biggest DIY successes in recent months has been Life Size Maps’ second EP of the year Excavate. Crossing the fuzzed over, reverb washed sound that’s been demonstrated prevalently in the community with a clear cut melodic system is the recipe for creating lasting impressions. Calling them a crowd favorite is an understatement as they continue to pack the room weekend after weekend supporting some of the cities finest bands along side.
13// S/T Seven Inch by Fucking Werewolf Asso (Sweden)
They made the list last year, and their making it again this year with the release of their first vinyl available where(?). FWA is the most important thing happening in Sweden right now and it’s this mother fucker, sitting over here, that’s looking to sign em outright when we open shop at Dingus Records (we thought you’d like that). Well it’s the perfect kind of music to listen to when the girl you love says “I don’t care what you think anymore, I’m done”. It’s the perfect kind of music to listen to when you’re on your way to hit the stash spot and it’s the perfect kind of music to get a whole crowd of misunderstood teenagers punching eachother (it’s dancing, okay?)
12// Respect + Reverence by Mothers & Fathers (Dublin, Ireland)
Being someone who is constantly sifting through the global DIY scene I can honestly say that it isn’t often that we come across something worth listening to from Ireland. However, all warranted bias aside, Respext + Reverence by Mothers and Fathers is truly one of the most harmonically sound albums of the year. Compositionally, the album is arranged thoughtfully around a repetitive theme that stretches the entire length always returning to take root in the unexpected chord shift. There aren’t any real singles, because the entire thing takes on a life of it’s own, only, when listened to as a whole.
11// *divAAAtion* by Two Left Ears (Paris, France)
As far as cities with fertile electronic scenes go, Paris is in the top three easy. Two Left Ears is an example of the kind of genre pushing work being done by the lands producers. Vested in the idea that everything unconventional must just as soon become tradition, *divAAAtion* has the mark of a pro composer hard at work. It’s this desire to push the boundary of what we consider “listenable” that remains the interesting center of procedure for these musicians.
10// Jean Jacques by The Jean Jackets (New Jersey)
Jean Jacques isn’t our first introduction to Jersey based Jean Jackets but it’s by far our most coherent. The band stretches it sound to fill the album and creates a dynamic unlike most. Standing out from the Mama Coco’s family isn’t easy but The Jean Jackets debut LP rounds itself so perfectly as it lulls from track to track with the occasional outburst of pent energy. The juxtaposition between male and female lead creates an opportunity for change not missed in the compositional process.
09// High Friends in Places by DFRNT (Edinburgh, Scotland)
For the past year or so we’ve been watching the movements of netlabel Cut Music. Nearly at the finale of last year, it’s leader, DFRNT released High Friends in Places- an electronic EP worthy of it’s slot here at number nine. Following the netlabel, one wouldn’t be too far off base in assuming that the netlabel was entirely Alex, but the reality is murky. Lessons learned seem to be rolled up into this single release, a drone repetition so meagerly, yet so interestingly affected.
08// Singles by Andrea (Paris, France)
Digging further into the Parisian electronic underground you’ll come across the young producer Andrea and his enigmatic collection of singles. A collection that, although not formally released as anything other than a string of tracks deserves its rightful recognition on this list. Ranging from remixes to original scores, the producer has put himself out there, as if to shout at the top of his lungs that he is deeply ready for bigger gigs.
07// Isoloir 2 by Max Richard (Montréal, Canada)
Isoloir 2, the second installment of rock drops from Canadian musician, Max Richard, remains one of my favorite achievements of the year. The album pulls rank on the dirty timbres of heavy rock influences and organizes them according to structures more familiar in the club. Richard’s observation and fluent administration of individually beat driven tracks is topped off by his wealthy understanding of melody, as often displayed above the industrial grime that often lines the sides.
06// Happy Lives by Happy Lives (Brooklyn, New York)
Rock and technology. It’s not as easy of a combination to pull of as one might think. Welding together solid guitar lines and loop based computer samples is no easy task and despite all the live performance issues that a band playing to a computer can have- Happy Lives pulls it off with showmanship. The three piece band is constantly in metamorphosis. Whether changing up drummers because of physical injury or changing set structures entirely when playing as a two piece, the groups self-titled debut album is a rounded introduction to the magic that can unfold when computer geek meets rock god.
05// Octopus Wall Street by The Harmonica Lewinskies (New York, New York)
The Harmonica Lewinskies are easily one of the best live acts playing around New York City in modern times. The group, which borders on double digits at times, is consistently delivering one of the most danceable forms of rock and roll around and consistently filling up venue after venue with spastic bodies shaking to their loud horn blasts. Musically, Octopus Wall Street is as structurally sound as it is fun. It brings dynamic melodies into a group setting where they are continuously dissected into their most relevant iterations. This is especially potent in a music world where first drafts are often considered final drafts and the dedicated re-administration of audio dynamics is often overlooked.
04// Let Go of Me by Bosco (Atlanta, Georgia)
Singer/song-writer Brittany Bosco gave us, this year, her most beautiful work yet. Let Go of Me, an EP rooted in broken dreams and hurt feelings. The three track album is the basis for a sound most notably coined by this Atlanta based musician that fits somewhere between electronica and soul. Her team sample and loop their live performances allowing for a breath of freedom not otherwise felt in most electronic compositions.
03// Peace 4 Tha World 2 . 0 by Chalices of the Past (United Kingdom)
Listed as a “a half hour of sloppy R&B mushies” Peace 4 The World 2.0 is cut from a much different cloth. It’s the part of me that’s in love with Boards of Canada or Four Tet, the part of me that likes things to develop slowly, to emerge organically and ultimately, to resonate and then disappear. Chalices of the Past glues styles together in ways never thought possible postulating on one little mixtape that proves, without any uncertainty, we (the DIY) have arrived.
02// Slow Rainbow by Lil Kids (Brooklyn, New York)
Slow Rainbow isn’t the most recent Lil Kids release but as the group works through new styles and genre-types, it’s this album that will constantly remain the benchmark for delivering the goods. From their single ‘Nobodies’, which hit the hypem charts at number 1 for a few days, straight through the rest of the album, there isn’t a track that feels out of place- the entire album flows like hip hop albums only used to. The duo, comprised of producer L0pat0 and lyricist Adam Kane, shows off a razor sharp intellect along side a playful attitude that drives Slow Rainbow further and further into your brain.
01// Nathan Jones is Dead by Ghost Pal (Brooklyn, New York)
Nathan Jones is Dead isn’t number one because it’s the most perfect concept album I’ve seen the DIY produce. Nathan Jones is Dead isn’t number one because it’s fronted by the leader of MCFK, Oliver Ignatius. Nathan Jones is Dead isn’t number one because they’re from our hood. Nathan Jones is Dead is the best album of the year, because it’s the best album of the year. Fucking, period. @Dingusonmusic