|Max, hard at work on this column.
First off, a disclaimer. I am good friends with a lot of excellent bands. Especially in Brooklyn. So, as much as it pained me, I intentionally left my friends' local bands off of this list for a couple reasons- 1. It's very difficult not to be biased-- a song that I would really like becomes a song I absolutely adore if I know and respect the songwriter on a personal level. 2. I'd feel guilty including some friends on this list and not others, as stupid as that sounds. However, I will do this much-- a tip of the hat. These bands that I happen to know personally all released new music this year that is well worth checking out: Crazy Pills, Heliotropes, Belus, Dead Stars, Naam, Miniboone, Jane Eyre, The Planes, Speedy Ortiz, Butchers & Bakers, Libel, Robot Princess, Zula, Seapost... shit. I know I'm forgetting so many people. shitshitshitshit. Sorry, people I forgot. It's definitely not you-- it's me.
1. Public Speaking- Blanton Ravine Public Speaking is Jason Anthony Harris, easily one of the most criminally unknown musicians in NYC. While some fair reference points could be found in the likes of Arthur Russell, Talk Talk, City Center, and Radiohead (at their most experimental), Jason Anthony Harris' sound is very much uniquely his own. Throughout Blanton Ravine, horns, strings, field recordings, backwards samples, and auxiliary hand percussion of all conceivable forms snake their way in and out of the sonic landscape, helping create a dark, sad, mysterious piece that is beautifully haunting and impossibly crammed with brilliant ideas.
2. The John Steel Singers- Everything's A Thread The John Steel Singers of Brisbane, Australia took their sweet time making this album and it shows. First of all, they recorded the whole thing in their own home studio that they built themselves and it sounds incredible. But it's what's behind this impressive-sounding record that counts-- intelligent pop songs (in the classic sense) of the highest caliber, expertly crafted and performed, complete with perfect harmonies and unforgettable melodies delivered in the form of driving, instantly lovable rock songs with brilliant krautrock and classic r&b influences aplenty. Most of the songs make you want to dance, but it's the couple funky slow jams that really disarmed me. And that bass line in "The AC" has got to be the most perfect I've heard all year.