In addition to my occasional writings for Sparks and Nerves I keep a Blog called The Free Record Blog. My aim with this is to recommend great music that is shared by the artist for free. I’ve been doing this for a few months now and I decided that, instead of doing the usual ‘top 10’ list at the end of the year I would put together a compilation collecting together tracks from my favourite releases of 2012.
Download it here: The Free Record Blog Bandcamp
Here’s a quick track-by-track rundown:
1. Hella Better Dancer – Brother: Dreamy, melancholic, and beautiful. ‘Brother‘ is taken from this London/Brighton based band’s ‘Living Room’ EP and is perfect late night music.
2. J / Q – Sayonara: Storming indie pop track from J / Q’s self-titled album of the year contender. Includes my favourite lyric of the year in the following: ‘I look at the world and then I look at my girl, I see an Ocean of shit and she’s the singular Pearl’. Beautiful man, just beautiful.
3. Evening Man – Glass Beneath the Skin: Experimental Electronic Pop from Pomfret, CT based Musician Paul Erik Lipp. The most immediate ‘Pop’ moment from the concept album ‘In Space‘, the scope and ambition of which is truly astounding.
4. Party People In A Can – The Aid of Red Wine: Helping to bring an International flavour to the compilation is this lovely Surf Pop nugget from Sesimbra, Portugal. Affiliated with the excellent netlabel (whose releases are all free by the way) You Are Not Stealing Records which released this song’s parent album ‘For The Enemy Who Escapes, Golden Bridges’, Party People In A Can make a lovely noise.
5. Horsehands – Tin Horn: One of my favourite bands to feature on The Free Record Blog so far. ‘Tin Horn’ comes from Horsehands forthcoming debut full length ‘Sirs’. Here’s what we had to say about them: ‘genuinely exciting and unpredictable music which is nigh on impossible to pin down’. That sums it up quite nicely.
6. Carnivores – Lion Tamer: An anthemic state of the nation riff-fest taster of this Paisley, Scotland based band’s debut album ‘You Disgust Me’. Their slogan is ‘Re-inventing the Mosh Riff. It’s hard to disagree.
7. MANKO NOVA – Empire of Dirt: A fairly new discovery to me, Manko Nova make crushing, electro-tinged post-hardcore. Hailing from Germany, ‘Empire of Dirt’ comes from their excellent 2012 release ‘Phantom EP’.
8. B>E>A>K> – Keehar: The first band to feature on The Free Record Blog, here’s what we said: ‘they make a joyful racket. Noisy, melodic and full of glee in a way that only bands with a horn section can be’. ‘Keehar’ is the opening track from ‘The White Edition’, B>E>A>K>’s third EP.
9. Nine Black Alps – Living In a Dream: Supercharged Garage Rock from the former great white hopes of British Rock. Hyped beyond recognition, and signed to a Major label in their early days they now do things their own way and have found a niche making Psych flecked gems like this one, given away as a free download to preview their latest album ‘Sirens’.
10. By Toutatis – Dead Men’s Cues: By Toutatis hail from a small town called Saltburn-by-the-Sea in the North East of England and specialise in historically aware lyrics married to chamber folk style sea shanties. ‘Dead Men’s Cues’ is no exception. Managing to sound unique and old fashioned at the same time, the band twist folk traditions to fit their own needs. Taken from the By Toutais / Dressed Like Wolves split EP.
11. Olive Drab – Cranberry: Philadelphia’s Olive Drab make lo-fi indie punk reminiscent of Ramones, Guided By Voices, early REM records, and Idlewild circa ‘Captain’. No pretensions here, just buzzsaw guitars, snotty vocals and a ton of energy. Taken from the whirlwind ‘Girl EP’. Credit to James of Sparks and Nerves who pointed me in the direction of this EP.
12. Baskin’s Wish – Theroux Being Cool: If I were to make a list of the worst moments in music in 2012 the disbanding of Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s Baskin’s Wish would be at the very top. In their time together they released 5 EP’s (and an outtake collection) worth of brilliant, Weezer influenced power pop. Taken from their farewell EP, ‘Lemonade’, ‘Theroux Being Cool’ (named after British documentary legend Louis) is typical of the Baskin’s Wish cannon of songs. Melodic, harmonious, catchy, and impossible not to love. Like everything else they’ve done, it’s utterly charming.
13. Dressed Like Wolves – Warmth: Dressed Like Wolves claim to be from Teesside but one listen to ‘Warmth’ and it’s apparent they inhabit their own little world. ‘Warmth’ sounds somehow comforting. There is an endearingly charming lilt to the fragility of the vocals and the simplicity of the arrangement. Taken from their side of the By Toutais / Dressed Like Wolves split EP, ‘Warmth’ is an apt title as that is exactly the feeling the song gives.
Download link again: The Free Record Blog Bandcamp
You can find Ian’s excellent blog here: The Free Record Blog