2012 has been a very good year for music. It’s the first year in a long time when I have discovered several new albums that really excite me. I mean actual new music by new bands, not reissues of some obscure LP from 1966 or even a new release by some old, established artist. I mean actual new bands who are currently working and recording. Here are my favorites from this year.
These Los Angeles based garage rock revivalists got together at my favorite LA point of interest Amoeba Records. Their mutual love for the Nuggets compilations led them to form one of the best new bands currently on the scene. Their first single, “Tell Me What’s On Your Mind” is like a great lost 13th Floor Elevators classic and yet manages somehow not to sound like a relic from the Sixties but a fresh new song. Their self-titled album contains a dozen amazing and inspired folk rock tunes and spy movie instrumentals.
Paperhead is from Nashville, Tennessee if you can believe that. They channel the spirit of the late great Syd Barrett right into the new millennium. I saw them play in Knoxville a couple of weeks ago. It seemed like they were having a bit of an off night and it took them until a few songs into the set the really get cooking. But once they did, it was a fantabulous show. They could use a little dressing up, though. I wish they’d take some fashion hints from Plasticland or add a light show. Their album is a psychedelic trip from start to finish. Not to be missed!
Amazingly the Sufis (or perhaps their name is S.U.F.I., it’s hard to be sure) are also from Nashville, Tennessee. Are they spiking the water with mescaline out there or what? Like Paperhead these young Southerners are obviously big fans of Syd Barrett. The Sufis are much more of a period piece than Paperhead, though. They’ve even mixed some songs on their album just like they did back in the day, with all the drums on the left and all the vocals on the right. Very cool. Another incredible album.
KOOLAID ELECTRIC COMPANY
As their name suggests, the Koolaid Electric Company are also psychedelic rockers. Yet their sound mixes in elements from the psychedelia of the Eighties, Nineties and 2000’s. They take the stoner rock thing to new levels by adding Byrds-like harmonies and synthesizer atmospherics. Their current album, Random Noises and Organized Sounds, is really hard to find. It seems to have been pressed in Japan. The copy I managed to find at Amoeba Records was an import even though as far as I know the band is American. But I’m not sure of even that much. The songs are written by one “S. Barrett,” though I’m sure it’s not Syd.
I know it’s cheezy to include my own band in this list. And we are not a new group like the others. But I genuinely think our new album, Caught in a Reflection, is one of the best things recorded in 2012. Of course I’m gonna think that! I wouldn’t want to participate in making a record unless I thought it was going to be great. I feel like we’ve finally begun living up to the true potential of the band. Although Zero Defex is known as a hardcore punk band, the musical tastes of everyone in the group are really eclectic. Drummer Mick Hurray plays guitar and dulcimer in an Irish trad rock band. Guitarist Jeff Hardy is a walking encyclopedia of rock and roll. Singer Jimi Imij probably has the most diverse tastes of any of us. He devours all forms of music from punk rock to Native American chants and he can tell you about all of it. This track Devil’s Trip/May 4, 1970, is my main contribution to the record. It started off as a stoner rock sludge fest but the band turned it into something incredible. Along with our usual instruments, I play the sitar and mellotron, while Jeff contributed the sleighbells and Mickey added the slide guitar. Psycho-jello, baby!
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