Waxing nostalgic

Wax Tablet
By PORTLAND PHOENIX MUSIC STAFF  |  December 19, 2012

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• It was a good year for weird music — or was it a weird year for good music? — and here are some of the standouts. The space-rock band PLANETS AROUND THE SUN showed that the modern music group might have a parallel life as a mobile art installation. The songwriter Jakob Battick took a hard left turn from the dark, tortured supplications of his last solo project to found AFRAID, a crunky, electronica shakeout whose newest single ("French Braids"/"Dead Friends") is a masterfully decayed slice of glitchy house forms. That's out this week, incidentally, via local label ETERNAL OTTER RECORDS, who have picked up the output recently, having just issued a seven-and-a-half inch vinyl endcap to the magnificent, queered-out cello-doom outfit CORRESPONDENCES, a band who exited 2012 as thunderously as they entered, playing a costumed, theatricized funeral set at Zero Station last month. We see a similar aesthetic flair in CONTRAPPOSTO, the aggressively avant-garde electronica duo, who started playing shows this summer after its production half, Jacob Pitcher, left the doomy post-rock duo AWAAS, which led that band to call upon former members of Conifer and Haru Bangs to round out a full unit. Hardcore rock and roll group WHIP HANDS formed and split up. BRENDA founder Josh Loring moved to New York, and while they still play (we're anxiously awaiting their new full-length), the move did seem to free up time for drummer DJ Moore to nurture JAW GEMS, who have become arguably the city's most popular jazz group, and ENDLESS JAGS, one of the finer rock bands to emerge this year. While that Brenda record will be released by Rochester, New Hampshire, label TEENARENA RECORDS (who are also slated to put out the forthcoming METAL FEATHERS record, Handful of Fog, any day now), meaningful releases were likewise issued by RESURGAM RECORDS, the DIRIGIMUS COLLECTIVE, and PEAPOD RECORDINGS. Last winter in Bangor, bath salts were a thing; now BATH SALTS are a garage-rock band in Portland. GRANT STREET ORCHESTRA, GSO to faithfuls, split up, while the fucked blues act RSO really came together. Totally compelling but completely unheralded records were released by the noise-rock band CUSS, the cinematic and epic progtronica act HUMAN, and experimental hip hop rave-up ROBBER AND THIEF, among assuredly dozens of others — (we're on it). And successful crowdfunding campaigns were run by SPOSE, the FREE RANGE MUSIC FESTIVAL (in Belfast), punk venue 131 WASHINGTON, jazz artists STANDARD ISSUE and HALLEY ELWELL, composer and pianist JIMMY DORITY, folk artist MEGHAN YATES, rock bands MELLOW ENDEAVOR and PHANTOM BUFFALO, soprano KRISTYN MURPHY, the PLAYING FOR CHANGE — PLAYING FOR MAINE project, and a collection of artists seeking to replace a stolen oboe for HOBOE's Zen Ben. Record store Moody Lords moved into a prime Congress Street location, Newbury Comics moved into the mall, and another huge Bull Moose cropped up in South Portland. And lastly, local musicians almost took up an offer to play for free at the Portland Jetport, and that near-deal's collapse led to the creation-by-morph of yet another Portland-based lifestyle mag. Weird indeed.

  Topics: New England Music News , Teenarena Records, Standard Issue, portyearend2012,  More more >
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