Sunday, December 16, 2012

November Backtracks

'Tis the season and that time I've been waiting for is just around the corner. No, not the holidays but putting together my year-end lists. I've been avoiding everyone else's year-end music lists so as not to be influenced and in all honesty, narrowing things down is the hardest part. But it's all forthcoming-- my Top 11 songs of 2012 and my Top 40 Albums (with mixtapes/Spotify playlists, of course). It all goes down this week before I head to the land of New Jersey for the holidays. But before I get to that, here's our last Monthly Backtracks Mixtape of the year. So for now, let's take a look back at November because after this, we widen the view and look back at this year gone by.


November 2012 Mixtape
1. Officers feat. Gary Numan, "Petals": I'll admit I don't much about the UK band, Officers. As a matter of fact, the first time I stumbled upon this song was only a week or so ago when I heard a more dance-oriented, EBM mix on an industrial compilation. Naturally, since Gary Numan provides vocals, I was won over and sought out more info about this mysterious band. Turns out they're from Leeds and their 2011 album, On The Twelve Thrones has a similar guitar-driven industrial vibe (the sound once identified as "coldwave" in the late 90s) to Numan's recent work so the pairing makes sense. This is the original mix of "Petals" which slows the pace down to a more goth-tinged dirge.

2. How to destroy angels_, "The loop closes": Who would've thought that Trent Reznor would be halfway to achieving EGOT status?! And to think, in the last two months, he announced that he was working on new NIN material and unleashed a great remix of "Destroyer" by Brooklyn synth duo, Telepathe. Yet somehow he still finds time to release a new EP with his more ethereal project, How to destroy angels_. "The loop closes" takes its time to build as electronics bubble up to the surface and guitars twist their way into the mix before Reznor's familiar hissed vocals make an appearance before disappearing into the ether just as quickly as it appeared.

3. Crystal Castles, "Kerosene": Unfortunately, not a cover of the Big Black song. That fact is made up for by Alice Glass' surprisingly subdued vocals. She sheds the primal shrieks that have become her calling card and instead strikes a seductive pose promising to "protect you from all the things I've seen."

4. School Of Seven Bells, "Faded Heart": This might be SVIIB's third appearance on a Monthly Backtracks Mixtape since we switched gears and transformed to Random Ramblings & Mixtapes. It's been a busy year for this band, as they've released one of my favorite albums of the year (Ghostory), my favorite 7" release from Record Store Day (their awesome cover of Siouxsie & The Banshees' "Kiss Them For Me"), and now an EP to close out 2012. Put Your Sad Down finds them going even deeper into their hypnotic mix of dream-pop and electro-pop. "Faded Heart" is a straightforward love song; the kind that I'd include on a mixtape for a crush.

5. Detachments, "Until You Fadeaway": This song may be a couple of months old but I only picked it up in November. Truth be told, I was a little reluctant on checking out the new material from this UK act since their 2010 self-titled album blew me away with its mix of old-school EBM, post punk, and synthpop. Well, on the Fade EP they're showcasing a sound that ditches the EBM and synthpop in favor of something that's closer to the midpoint of Joy Division and New Order. Thankfully, it works. "Until You Fadeaway" is one of those songs that mixes very well with "She's Lost Control," which by the way, is a very big compliment.

6. Indian Jewelry, "See Forever": Houston's Indian Jewelry is a hard band to describe with only one word. My gut instinct wants to call them "psych" or "shoegaze," but really there's so much more to them. Their latest album, Peel It, is a bit of a mindbending listening experience. Not only does it touch on psych and the haziness of shoegaze, but there are hints of gothy psychedelia almost taking influence from Genesis P-Orridge and Psychic TV. It's that difficulty to pin down their sound that makes me repeatedly go back to Peel It hoping it becomes easier with each listen. Thankfully each listen just makes it easier to get lost in the album.

7. Carousels, "Sweet Honey": I first found Carousels on a random blog and back then, they were firmly in the dream pop camp. But with their debut EP, POP, they expand their sound embracing a wall of distorted guitars that nod equally towards shoegaze and 90's alt rock. "Sweet Honey" can almost pass for a lost gem from Gish and that's a good thing.

8. A Place To Bury Strangers, "Don't Stop": Like School Of Seven Bells, A Place To Bury Strangers make their third appearance on a Monthly Backtracks Mixtape thanks to two stellar releases, the Onwards To The Wall EP back in February followed by the June release of Worship. And like SVIIB, APTBS are a band that I've gone out of my way to see perform live. "Don't Stop" is the B-side to their latest single from Worship, "And I'm Up."

So there you have it. The last Monthly Backtracks Mixtape of 2012. Next up, will be Top Songs of 2012 followed by the Top 40 Albums of the year. Time to get serious about narrowing all that down. As always, listen loud and become immersed.

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