A look back at 2011 in music: U.K., metal, eccentric, local and grime
By The DCP Music Staff
A local look back
… As usual, 2011 provided numerous opportunities in Dayton to witness an underrated local scene taunting its possible futures. Here’s some of what was good this year, as well as what looks good for 2012….
Record Store Day
After the demise of Gem City Records in early 2010, Omega Records relocated to the vacant storefront in the Oregon District late in the year under the direction of the late Gary Staiger. As his children fought to keep the store afloat, their celebration of National Record Store Day in April of this year provided a much-needed rallying point for the local scene. With the store packed to the gills with record buyers and local musicians, the celebration saw performances from Buffalo Killer and Motel Beds, both of whom welcomed the Breeders’ Kelley Deal to the stage, as well as numerous other local acts. With so much enthusiasm for the event and its local flavors, RSD demonstrated the type of camaraderie that, on occasion, defines the Dayton indie scene.
As previously discussed in the pages of this publication, web-based resources such as Bandcamp [bandcamp: shortcode must include 'track', 'album', or 'video' param] and Kickstarter [kickstarter.com] gave bands exceptional new means by which to fund and distribute their work. While Bandcamp started to make waves in late 2010 [locals such as Toads & Mice and Yakuza Heart Attack being notable early adopters], the floodgates opened wide in 2011 with countless local acts uploading their music and making it readily available to new audiences. With its high-quality audio formats and pocket-friendly pricing model, Bandcamp stands to serve as a formidable service for some time to come. Likewise, Kickstarter opened the once previously nebulous territory of self-financing large-scale projects to bands, offering fans a direct link to support artists. With the Motel Beds financing their latest album Tango Boys on vinyl, a once-prohibitive format quickly came into reach.
What to Watch for in 2012
If you’re looking for what the New Year may deliver, here are some things to keep an eye on. Lots of veteran bands have new projects in the works: Lab Partners have been tracking new material with ex-Breeders/GBV drummer Jim MacPherson. If you didn’t catch them live this year, be sure to make a point of it in 2012. Oh Condor [formerly 8-Bit Revival] are working on a new EP slated to come out on Gas Daddy Go! Records in February. Monolithic sludge-riff-pop provocateurs Astro Fang have projects slated for release on GDG!, as well as Detroit-based Five Three Dial Tone. As if 2011 weren’t busy enough for the Motel Beds, they’ve also got a new EP scheduled with GDG!, not to mention another new full-length in the works…
If you’re looking for new talent, here’s a shortlist of newer bands you need to tune in to during 2012: Abertooth Lincoln [lunatic fringe speedthrashtrash]; King Elk [ex-Andrew & the Pretty Punchers rock/folk/country/soul]; Grenades?! [explosively quirky indie anthems]; Hyrrokin [skull-rattling jazz/rock trio]; and God Bless & Asher Jones [hip-hop ensemble with live band backing].
• Kyle Melton
Reach DCP Music Editor Kyle Melton at MusicEditor@DaytonCityPaper.com and read his blog at thebuddhaden.net.
The year of the grime: Worst trend of 2011
Musically, ‘grime’ is considered a type of garage rap style based in the United Kingdom. In Dayton, however, it became a movement of quite the opposite; punk rock ‘n’ roll bands and bar-goers alike participated in grime, the Oregon District’s catchphrase of 2011.
“Basically,” said Sean Patton, founder of the movement, “it’s about doing whatever the fuck you want.”
In the twilight of 2010, members of several bar staffs and local rock groups decreed that 2011 would be the “Year of the Grime.” Electric Banana’s Patton and Joseph Coolidge of the Sound for Language & Adventure became the ambassadors of the movement and started organizing grime events, showcasing grime-approved bands, themes, and the enjoyment of spirits. Ultimately culminating with “Grime Prom,” which happened at Blind Bob’s in October, grime-approved groups Astro Fang, Electric Banana, Adventure, Rad Company and Cincinnati’s Banderas played to the at-capacity crowd. Party-goers dressed up like they were at a tattered prom; this of course reminiscent of the “punk-rock prom” that seems to be perpetuated by disenfranchised teens, however here, simply not the case. On a larger scale, the grime movement was gently filling a social and musical groove here in Dayton.
I’m sure most people think this sounds stupid, and they might be right. But for those who have taken part, it’s done more.
“It sort of solidified a lot of the bands and people here,” said Patton. “It made us all closer, and certainly all grimier.”
Bands that played throughout grime-approved spots (Blind Bob’s, etc.) quickly realized that people would shout a wayward “grime” at almost everything, and were more than happy (if imbibed) to also take part in this trend. The amount of beer thrown on the grime-approved bands also has driven up recently, and anyone standing dangerously close to the front row during any of these bands would almost certainly end up covered in beer, but not as much as the band would. The first band locally to get this treatment (and consistently) would be perpetual road-dogs Rad Company.
“I don’t know how it started,” said Josh Goldman, singer for Rad Company. “It was just fun, and it probably started because someone thought we sucked.”
Patton remains optimistic that the “Very Grimey Chinese New Year” (taking place January 21, a few days before the actual Chinese New Year) will not just end the Year of the Grime, but leave a legacy for others.
“Hey,” Patton added. “…it’s grime. It’s fun, and we don’t give a shit.”
Despite his “don’t-give-a-shit” attitude, we know he does. Otherwise there wouldn’t be another grime event, and you wouldn’t see “Year of the Grime” tattoos everywhere.
• W.C. Ruffnel
Reach DCP freelance writer W.C. Ruffnel at WCRuffnel@DaytonCityPaper.com.
Strange waves from the U.K.
For fans of British music, 2011 was a dark and puzzling year: a time of death, triumph, overexposure and questionable rebirth. Here’s a brief look at four artists/bands from across the pond that made waves in 2011.
Amy Winehouse: Although the death of Amy Winehouse was less than shocking, it cast a long shadow this past summer. Many in the industry subsequently praised her natural, abused talent, while the masses sent 2006’s Grammy Award-winning Back To Black back toward the top of the charts (her debut album Frank remains somewhat overlooked). Like its first two singles — “Body and Soul,” a duet with Tony Bennett, and “Our Day Will Come” — this year’s posthumous Lioness: Hidden Treasures proves as erratic as Winehouse’s career.
The Horrors: When my brother-in-law first exposed me to the Horrors back in 2007, I dismissed them as cartoon goths making Scooby-Doo tunes. How they have evolved! Third record Skying is a slow-motion underwater explosion of color and groove. Opener “Changing the Rain” channels the best bits of the Psychedelic Furs, and “Still Life” suggests that, if they had made music in the 1980s, the Horrors would have been misunderstood kings of the decade. The future is theirs to seize or squander.
Adele: We all know that 2011 was the “Year of Adele;” her hit single “Rolling in the Deep” was inescapable. I heard it on the radio, on television, in my favorite bars and restaurants — even at a Dayton Dragons game (true story). I understand I’m not Adele’s target demographic, and that I tired of her ever-present voice sooner than others. But I also admit she has real ability. The songs on 21 are catchy and well-produced, and as a result were overplayed ad nauseam. This was not her fault. Celebrate your success, Adele. Then take a break and rest for a while. Please.
The Stone Roses: I’m still digesting the fact that this seminal band — who originally broke up in 1996 after making two studio albums and basically creating Britpop — announced their reunion this October. Initially I swooned; then I raged. Now I’m resigned. I wish the Stone Roses well on their 2012 world tour and possible new output; the four members are set to rake in a ton of money. I just can’t stop thinking their decision is more about fortune and legacy than expression and art. Ah, what a fool I am! Let the nostalgia-humping begin. Happy New Year.
• Benjamin Smith
Reach DCP freelance writer Benjamin Smith at BenjaminSmith@DaytonCityPaper.com.
2011 was a very good year…for metal
2011 was a very good year…for metal
Whether it’s black metal, thrash, doom, stoner metal, death metal and everything in between — if it makes my head nod and bang with the music, then that record has done its job. Given that I’ve listened to literally hundreds of new metal releases, it was a tough assignment for me to compile what I believe to be the definitive list of Best Metal Albums of 2011 in any particular order. Knowing that I will probably change my mind the minute I send this in to my editor, I’m still going to take a stab at giving you just that…
1. Ghost – Opus Eponymous (Metal Blade): While this slab of retro hard rock may not be a work of art or even the best album made in 2011, it certainly got more plays in my iTunes than any other disc issued in the U.S. during this calendar year. Ghost is supposedly an anonymous sextet from Sweden who formed a rock band to ensnare more souls to worship and live their lives for their “one true God,” Satan almighty himself. The twist here is that instead of being an overly dark, distorted, blast-beated affair with undecipherable vocals, the music here harkens back to the groove of early heavy metal from the late 1960s and ‘70s, referencing sounds from the likes of Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate and Blue Oyster Cult. What sets Ghost even further apart from most of its heavy music peers is the vocals — instead of the grunting, growling or screaming usually associated with modern metal, the lead singer belts out the blasphemous lyrics with a clear, soaring croon that will have a listener singing along to choruses about human sacrifices, witches, evil women, Satanic rites and the Devil himself. Sure, Ghost is a little hokey and gimmicky, but the songs are so hooky and catchy that in the end, the music is what really matters. Apparently, when Satan rears his ugly head from Hell, it’s going to be a groove-laden, rockin’ good time.
And the best of the rest…
2. Moonsorrow – Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa (Decca International)
3. Within Temptation – The Unforgiving (Roadrunner)
4. Trap Them – Darker Handcraft (Prosthetic)
5. In Solitude – The World. The Flesh. The Devil (Metal Blade)
6. Liturgy – Aesthetica (Thrill Jockey)
7. Wolves In The Throne Room – Celestial Lineage (Southern Lord)
8. Deafheaven – Roads To Judah (Deathwish Inc.)
9. Taake – Noregs Vaapen (Candlelight)
10. Electric Wizard – Black Masses (Metal Blade)
11. Absu – Abzu (Candlelight)
12. Blut Aus Nord – 777: The Desanctification (Season Of Mist)
13. Kralice – Diotima (Profound Lore)
• Gary Spencer
Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.
Gonna party like it’s 1996?
In moves that brought memories of ‘90s VFW hall and basement shows to mind, and that may owe major debts to the success of reunions by some of Gem City’s finest indie acts, mid-90s era emo rock bands brought their own reunions to the table. While Bob Pollard and his Bee Thousand indie troubadours made festival and club goers that much drunker and Kim Deal’s Pixies revived Doolittle to packed houses across the globe, the Dismemberment Plan, Braid, the Get Up Kids, Ink and Dagger, Lifetime, the Smoking Popes and others from emo’s ‘90s-era third wave blew the dust of their instruments for cash-grabbing “best-of” sets. Ohio joined the fight when Kent, Ohio’s the Party of Helicopters turned in reunion sets in Columbus and New York this summer and Columbus’ Denovo reunited for the annual Parking Lot Blowout in Cowtown. Even Long Island’s Taking Back Sunday revived their “classic” Victory Records-era lineup for a new album and tour.
There were casualties along the way, with Fall Out Boy, Thursday and Thrice hanging it up in 2011. But for those of us shedding tears, the sorrow went quickly by the wayside when Alkaline Trio, a band that played their first out-of-town show in a Gem City living room, released reimagined versions of songs from Goddammit, Chamberlain’s The Moon And My Saddle and Coalesce’s Give Them Rope saw reissue treatment, and Alternative Press Magazine announced an impending 2012 reunion from the Promise Ring. Keeping the ‘90s emo era spirit afloat, bands from across middle America channeled these acts in brand new offerings. The Wonder Years, Touche Amore, Polar Bear Club, Such Gold, Make Do And Mend, Fireworks, Aficionado and countless others saluted emo emissaries like Jawbreaker, Hot Water Music, Cursive and Lifetime with their 2011 output for labels like Mightier Than Sword, No Sleep Records and Topshelf Records.
Though no ‘90s era Dayton-based emo acts appeared on stages in the Gem City, I’m keeping fingers crossed that 2012 brings longwayhome, Keaton and Blue Ash Solution reunions. Although I’m sure they’ll be aghast to read this, if those reunions don’t materialize then Oh Condor (formerly 8-Bit Revival), the Sound For Language, and the Story Changes will remain my local go-to acts for ‘90s flavored emo-guitar noodling.
Not to be overlooked, Ohio-based hardcore musicians who cut their teeth in the ‘90s joined the fight — former Victory Records recording act Morning Again, featuring Truth and Triumph tattoo artist and former Waking Kills The Dream vocalist Kevin Byers and drummer Matt Thomas (formerly of Brother Von Doom) made trips to Groezrock in Belgium and the This Is Hardcore festival in Philadelphia over the Summer. Former Twelve Tribes guitarist and drummer Kevin Schindel and Dave Mann turned in a record for Translation Loss with black metal band Bringers of Disease, and Shindel reunited with former Twelve Tribes bassist Matt Tackett for stoner-metal act Neon Warship, and stand-in Twelve Tribes bassist Jeremiah Stikeleather turned it out with Amphetamine Reptiles-leaning act Feathered Serpent. Though a full-blown Twelve Tribes reunion has yet to be announced, consider these mentions a major “bug in the ear.”
• Tim Anderl
Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@DaytonCityPaper.com.