10 Good Scuzzy Rock Albums You Probably Missed in 2012
To assert that a punk band reflects the city it's from is a cliché. To assert that a punk band from NYC reflects NYC is even more of a cliché, but there's no better way to begin to describe what informs the deviant punk of Crazy Spirit. The drumming employs a galloping, snare-centric beat like the clack-clack of a passing subway, and the vocals sound completely subhuman. It conjures the subterranean activity of the city at night, when the hunched mass in a doorway could be a pile of garbage or an unsavory predator. Crazy Spirit imparts the paranoia of an empty street, when the cracked concrete and inexplicable odors become hostile, and you're struck with the sudden realization of what "urban jungle" actually means.
Aaaa the New Memphis Legs
This unholy union of cult garage guitarist James Arthur and The Oblivians' Eric Oblivian produced one of the most savage long-players released this year. Comprised of covers of obscure Australian garage tracks, it employs a blown-out recording aesthetic that's actually one of the album's greatest assets. While younger bands might use poor fidelity as a crutch for a lack of tone, The Legs realized how to use it as an enhancement, for both vocals and guitar, long ago. Hear the saturated yelps and nihilist riffs on "Drunk" and "Wild About You" for evidence.
King Tuff's sophomore album drops the tape hiss and lo-fi charm of his debut, which certainly alienated some older fans but established droves of new ones. Despite that, lyrics on standout tracks like "Bad Thing" and "Hit And Run" retain mastermind Kyle Thomas' penchant for subtle sleaze above anthemic glam rock and power pop.
Turquoise for Hello
With members hailing from Diet Cokeheads, Neon Blud, and St. Dad, this trio is comprised of seasoned players from Florida's flourishing noise rock scene. With this project, the players hone their rock 'n' roll swagger through the lens of a rather sick and eerie take on Southern music. "Desert Buzz" sets the tone aptly with rattlers, tape hiss, and slow, morosely twanging guitar leads that could soundtrack a dystopian Western. The vocals channel some demented state of mind, especially on standout "Itching and Scratching." The words sound like they're spoken through grinding teeth with a mutilated tongue.
This Vancouver quartet channels the bleak, downtrodden aesthetic of death rock but thankfully drops the genre's often cheeky façade. Sex Church commands a singleness of purpose. It seems to create a narrative of despair. Murky dissonance abounds in the dense synths and guitars, while towers of feedback and anguished, harrowing vocals create a resolutely negative atmosphere that swells and diminishes like your own episodes of turmoil. Listeners familiar with abject misery will relate to this recording, but it's also suggested for the moonlighting depressives among us.