It's never too early to make a best-of list. the year is halfway through, and already people have front-runners and dark-horses for their album of the year contenders. Current sought to compile a list of hopeful contenders with a little local celebrity help from various shining beacons of the busy scene, those players and promoters riding the tide of the various new Washtenaw music waves. Our list of guest judges?
Shelly Salant (Swimsuit / Shells / WCBN / Ginkgo Records):
Amber Fellows (Swimsuit / Damned Dogs / Kumi Tapes / Ypsi Music Shelf),
Alexis Ford (Sex Police / Eat Meter / Artist / Booking Agent),
These judges are locals who create their own music (or contribute to a range of other’s projects), and are also some of the core supporters of the scene, overall, either through consistent concert attendance, concert curation, or concert performance, as well as regular scans of local record shop’s shelves. “Coming up with a Best of 2013 music list from Washtenaw County could sound ridiculously difficult,” says Fellows, “if it weren’t for how prolific the artists are in this area.” Without further ado, the lists:
- Fred Thomas Kuma (LP, Polyvinyl) “So much has been said of (Thomas)’ work and it may never be enough. Kuma captures a distant intimacy, with reference to places far away that invoke up-close loneliness, which comes through the close-mic’d style, hushed vocals and full orchestration.
- Rebel Kind Some Things… “…these beautiful and macabre odes were my winter study-break jams.” (Milo: Full disclosure, Fellows/Salant currently perform with the live incarnation of this band, which is Autumn Wetli’s solo group. But, for what its worth, it made my list too.)
- Babydown (babydown.bandcamp.com –singles streaming) “I came across this recording the other day and really enjoy the gauzy, minute-length pop songs.”
- Shells (Coming soon- Life Like Records) “I’ve heard it (Salant) made the record of the year.
- Radiant Marks’ Ominous Feeling (7”/EP) “This band’s based in Detroit/Ann Arbor, featuring members of Bad Indians, Chit Chat & The Rippers.
- Rebel Kind Some Things Were Just Meant To Change (Cassette) “Autumn Wetli’s (of Bad Indians) solo project; I’ve always been a huge fan of her songwriting. After this cassette, she has an LP coming out soon on Life Like Records.
- Lidless Eye Escape from Split Screen (LP) “After numerous cassette-releases, it’s great to finally hear Ypsi’s Knox Mitchell (of Green Records & Tapes) on a proper LP!”
Ford: “I’m not really sure who all has had recordings come out recently, but…
- Minus 9 “They released Drown at last month’s Totally Awesome Fest (curated by singer/songwriter/puppeteer Patrick Elkins) and I’m sure it’ll be a highlight of my year.
- Patrick Elkins & Chelsea Jordan Pills In My Pocket (CD)
- Ritual Howls (Cassette on (Salant)’s Ginkgo
So, there’s a fine scan of the underground. Some of my picks likely struck louder radar pangs:
Saturday Looks Good To Me released their first album in six years (One Kiss Ends It All on Polyvinyl) but showed no sign of rust. Kiss' summery jams epitomize pop effervescence surfed seamlessly over complexly composed, richly rendered recordings.
Frontier Ruckus reached new heights in lavish, literate folk-rock splendor.
Eternity of Dimming made breezy/fuzzy 90’s roadtrippy-reels sound like operatic pop, conjuring mesmeric waking-dreams (and waking nightmares), poetic and knotty but at their core, still catchy.
A bunch of goodies came out in late April: Black Jake & the Carnies Watching, Waiting EP was all too brief of a serving of their steadily-perfecting spicey/sloppy-joe bluegrass-punk.
Nightlife unveiled blissful, glitz-ful synth-pop dance nocturnes with their latest Days In Other Days and I’d be remiss to omit Chit-Chat’s gloriously chuggy/fuzzy surf-rock quickie via their 4-song 7” that came out on New Year’s Day.
And Rebel Kind’s lo-fi folk traipses along the bittersweet borders of rainy day music, but striking an uncanny, nonchalant beauty that brightens more than dims. Hopefully these lists helped you out.
Check back in December for a list.