Opinears’s Favorite Records of 2012 - Number 1
Aubrey - A Place to Bury Strangers - Worship
People often draw parallels between the dark bass lines prevalent in bands like Joy Division, the effect pedal heavy guitars of My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive and the sort of industrial edge of Jesus and Mary Chain. Sure you can hear those influences throughout Worship, and throughout their previous studio albums as well, but I think APTBS has evolved into a new species of noise, space rock, and shoegaze. They are in their own little world.
Worship is a very moody album. It basically is begging to be listened to with headphones so you can really become familiar and intimate with all its swings. At times it’s dark and twisted and can be immediately followed by almost rather nice and pleasant but has something odd about you want to be cautious.
There’s a gothic sort of vibe that reverberates throughout Worship, there’s something slightly sinister here. Oliver Ackerman, Dion Lunadon and Robi Gonzalez create not a wall but a cloud or a new atmosphere of sound. Like we are in some strange sonic dome in some alternate reality, the environment is different here and yet things are so familiar.
A Place to Bury Strangers is a band that I feel like anyone who enjoys them on record MUST see live, unless you are epileptic or are prone to seizures and I mean that in all seriousness (the headphones will suffice). It’s not even about seeing (which even if you’re eyes are closed the strobe lights are inescapable), it’s about hearing and feeling. I’m surprised that these guys haven’t sold out every single show they play. Their live show is nothing short of an assault on all but two of your senses. It’s an incredible experience I’ve subjected myself to four times in the past year or so. It’s about nearly going deaf, nearly having your heart played out of your chest and a presence on stage that I haven’t seen in any other band. They don’t go to 11, they ARE 11. They probably are the loudest band in the world. I can’t believe more people haven’t heard them.
- Mark (ranked it #8) adds -
Along with the monumental respect Aubrey and I carry for each other’s musical taste and knowledge is the understanding that they come from considerably different realms. The fact that we agree that APTBS is one of, if not the best band going right now, signified that we’ve seen them a combined dozen times in the last 18 months or so, and handed them, with my EP list, two of the three top slots we had available, is a testament to how great they are.
Aubrey pretty well summarized the 80’s influences APTBS tend to be cited with, and that’s not entirely off-base. I like to think of one of those 80’s dystopian movies (why were there so many of those?!) and APTBS is the intimidating band directors thirty years ago imagined us listening to, all resplendent in our silver jumpsuits and narrow sunglasses.
Truthfully, APTBS is the future, listening to as many new artists as I have this year, you can hear just how quickly their sound is spreading, with sounds ranging from palatable influence to out-and-out imitation. And the Brooklyners seem oblivious to the expectations, touring relentlessly and putting out records that demonstrate growth, while still holding true to the sound that made you fall in love with them in the first place.
I imagine in a different era, they would be one of the biggest bands in the world, and do state with confidence that history will judge them as important as we view them.
Mark - Goat - World Music
I tried to wrap my head around the idea that it could be anything else. I honestly did. There was a great number of wonderful records this year, coming up with 50 worth listing was a cinch. But only one left me with my jaw wide open and has failed to relent in delighting me with each subsequent listen.
World Music is everything you can ask a record to be: intrinsically carnal, emotionally engaging, intellectually challenging, all while being overwhelmingly danceable, whether it be booty shaking or head banging. The record is like nothing you’ve ever heard before, while being like so much that you have heard before. It’s a feeling you that sticks with you when you’re done with it that sticks with you until you put it on again.
If you’re not familiar with Goat’s “back story”, I suggest you look it up, because it is awesome. The gist of it is, Goat comes from a northern Swedish town, Korpilombolo, that was cursed by a voodoo priest as his people fled. This Goat is just the latest incarnation of a tradition that has existed for generations in this town.
Is that all true? How can I put this succinctly? I do not give a fuck. The band sounds like it could be true, which is way more important. It almost takes a story like that to explain the sound this band is able to conjure. Funk and afrobeat meets psychedelic and stoner rock, for a raw sound executed with a confidence that transcends a band merely putting out their first record. Rock and funk drumming meet sub-equatorial percussion. Guitar lines range from squealing noise to single string picking you might find on a Fela Kuti album. Walking bass maintains a groove throughout the record while female vocals wail in a variety of languages. The record flow from composition to composition then closes with a reprise of the opening track “Diarabi”, giving the record the feeling of an infinite loop. There’s a mystical quality to it that almost makes me regret that the world didn’t end a week ago, because this would have served as a perfect apocalyptic soundtrack.
Since I decided this was my album of the year a couple of weeks ago, my confidence in the pick has only been re-confirmed. Trying to express my feelings for it here and feeling like I can’t verbally sum up how incredible it is only furthers that belief. This is my favorite record of the year, and I say that with a surprising lack of hesitation.