As the first person to ever write aboutThe Orwells, I have the overwhelming responsibility to defend them. From what, from who? Nevermind. When they were 15/16 years old, they were writing catchy rock ‘n roll. The production was what you would expect from some suburban kids in their basement. By this time, I was the biggest fan of the Black Lips and they were too. This was back in the days when some good bands would e-mail us (themselves), send some links, offer words of appreciation of what we were doing. A kinship. I thought these dudes were doing shit at a much higher level than their older peers and there was some video floating around of them playing a huge show in Chicago. They seemed big, but I figured they were too young to tour. And maybe they were because it took until 2013 for them to come through Boston.
I remember that show like it was yesterday. At the now dead TT The Bears with some local band called Nice Guys whose first 7″ we would later put out. The Orwells were shooting some pool in the back of the empty club and I come through and say “Yo dudes whassup, you know who I am?” Maybe a little cocky but most likely not. I say yo I wrote about you first. ‘OH shit, Kids Like You and Me?’ Yeah dudes. Lamenting about not being able to drink — a few years away — the Chicago White Sox, and groupies? “Nah dude, not at all” – Mario. They had fresh stacks of Remember When at the merch table, though this record was old news to me, as it had a much lower key self-release (like their first two albums). So when the press narratives say that this Terrible Human Beings is their third studio album, that is not a lie, but it terribly deceives the public, those individuals who might like the hot and dirty material known as THE EARLY DAYS. Put them in their parents musty basement or put them in a studio with the guy who produced the Arctic Monkeys – I’m not really sure it makes a difference. They’ve always been a cleaner outlet to weenies or rational thinkers who think The Strokes were garage-punk. I give ’em shit for not knowing the Oblivians. But as I noticed a few years ago, these five weren’t back from the Grave like The Count Five or any nefarious ‘teen punkers’ but they are not some borderline pop punk, Melodic generics, either. And it is funny that they always seem to play with not exciting, ROCK acts.
On Terrible Human Beings, the best way I can put it is they are still Being The Orwells. They are not Trying To Be The Orwells, which is never a good look, something that usually comes from the creativity lacking depths of veteran bands. From a lot of bands, I usually think it is pretty shitty when they say they are evolving. Forced and gross. But yeah with these guys, they seem to still be coasting, and not changing their innate formula for catchy songs. It is humorous how hot spot, big time get-paid-to-write-about-bands publications make a big deal out of shit like the D chord, precision drumming, floaty bass. Draw conclusions and frame things. I don’t have to worry about The Orwells not delivering. They give a decent amount of material for the music journalists of the world – to talk bout their small forays into Indie Rock and Psychedelia. And they do, it’s no lie. They are a fun listen for tweenies and that older gentleman who comments on every of their YouTube video. How you connect or do not connect is up to you. Research the past or stay locked in the 2017 stuff. Both maybe. They fulfilled their dreams of sharing a bill with the Black Lips and now they are going to consistently sell out The Sinclair. Props my dudes.
1. Black Lips – Arabia Mountain – My excitement for this album grew steadily once the news came out that they were working on one in early 2010. The original release date set for “when school gets back in” was pushed back once Ronson joined as co-producer. As we all know by now, the band had a delightful time working with him. So it’s no coincidence that Arabia is filled with some of the catchiest songs I’ve heard in a while. The sound production is not as muddy and psychedelic as the band’s previous effort 200 Million Thousand; instead, it’s clean and clear. The songs themselves cross the kind of rock and roll terrain that the Lips have always found themselves in, including but not limited to: clangy, jangly, country, punk. This stuff is addicting (for people with an ear for it like me) and tough to remove from the record player. I guess that’s a quality that the best album of the year should possess.
2. Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread – This is another one that I was counting the days until release. Ty’s last record Melted received an ‘honorable mention’ in my Best of 2010, but would have comfortably cracked the Top 5 if I redid my list a few months later. Goodbye Bread was a quintessential summer listen and still holds the test of time as this part of the country is freezing over. The thing that Ty does so well (and has always done so well) is arranging his songs. There’s optimal fuzz, hard-pounding drums, and a lingering bass line in nearly every song at some point and a lot of it is unexpected and fresh. I love the opening of “You Make the Sun Fry,” and the ever so crunchy chorus in “My Head Explodes,” in particular. Goodbye Bread affirms Ty’s status as one of the most talented song writers in modern rock and roll. At the least, it goes to show that noisy relatively straight-forward garage isn’t all the dude is about.
3. Atlas Sound – Parallax – Last year (as I just said above) I made the folly of overlooking some records. Another one of them was Halcyon Digest. Sure, it was among my Top 10, but I didn’t really appreciate as much in 2010 as I should have. With Parallax, I gave it several listens before reviewing it and over the course of listening the real beauty of it really came out. It’s mainly a light affair with several streaks of brilliance that some could dub ‘experimental’ or ‘odd’, but to me is just as pop as anything typically labeled that. Bradford knows catchy better than most. The by product of this is a mass of songs that are inspirational and healing.
4. The Beets – Let The Poison Out – The Beets are one of those bands that I regret not getting more into earlier on in my KLYAM career. After seeing them open for No Age at Wellesley College back in April 2009, I failed to do significant follow up research. Well, now I’d say I’m fairly well versed on the Beets; all the credit to them for infectious releases and superb live performances. Let The Poison Out works so well because it’s just so hard to not be hooked on the Beets raw rock, pop, n’ roll . It makes me want to start pounding on some drums while blasting it loudly. “Doing As I Do” and “I Think I Might Have Built A Horse” are sing-alongs like none other.
5. Mikal Cronin – Mikal Cronin – You can tell this guy has spent some quality time hanging around Ty Segall. Not to say he hasn’t spent quality time with other musicians. The Moonhearts are nice. Well anyway, this album really captivated me as it fits in perfectly on a scale of Ty and Thee Oh Sees. Like those folks’ records, Mikal Cronin is quite instantaneously hooky (with like two exceptions, but those are still real good). Picking favorites is a challenge. I love “Situation” a great deal, because right from the get-go it is extremely fun. The San Fran rock ‘n roll region had quite a 2011.
Shannon and the Clams – Sleep Talk The Orwells – Remember When Thee Oh Sees – Castlemania Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost Natural Child – 1971 Mark Sultan – Whatever I Want The Hussy – Cement Tomb Mind Control Davila 666 – Tan Bajo