Peninsular Place


December 18, 2012

…on Where You Listen

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Written by: Jeff Milo
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It’s times like these that stoke my self-consciousness to unhealthy levels; me, the ostensible music-writer…

I start dissecting the substance of slinging Favorite Discs of The Year at you.

First of all, everyone’s gonna have their lists; you don’t really need another one… (Unless, by some endemically-random fortunes these sounds slipped by your bud-bludgeoned ears this year…And who could blame you in post-Internet-world).

But, I vacillate between drum-major and naysayer for the role of the modern critic – have we emerged, in the peeking doom-dawn light of 2013, as beacons towards the ever drifting Hip-Horizon…Blog-framed Zagats guides of which bands you actually should be listening to if you wanna look like you’re the edgiest of the esoterica at the indie-club…and isn’t that a sort of devolution? (And is it, that, maybe I’m over-thinking this?)

Second, December’s too early a time to look back on the year… It’d be like walking out on a rock show just as the band has re-plugged in for their encore’s last two songs.

Third, shouldn’t we be talking about weightier issues, like, say, our state, the birthplace of the United Auto Workers, becoming a new (debatably) anti-union environment via the recent enacting of Right-To-Work Legislation? Or…whatever, the Fiscal Cliff? Isn’t that more substantive?

Ten year retrospectives; Top-50-Best-Of’s; What’s Gonna Be Big Next Year? These gimmicky features feel perfunctory on mornings like these…mad mid-December mornings where I’m just over-thinking the whole music-thing…an inherently exasperating-thing to attempt written explanation…to attempt any explanation at all, truly…

And then I’ve slogged through all those word-wedged noises splayed in the above graphs only to come to a clichéd thesis: Music is, really, just- -emotion, pure emotional ephemera …it strikes a nerve. It’s gonna matter to you if it moves you!

And if, here, I’m frustrated over my “delaying-the-inevitable” of foisting of “favorites” upon your potentially-uninterested-eyes, then I’m gonna select and stream that burns, bends and butts-up-against… something that cobbles catharsis for my nervy soul, rattles me up and shakes it out… It’s what some might’ve called –punk-inspired…noisy, or, if-you-will: ‘psychedelic…’ Certainly not the pristine-pop stuff, not the milk and cookies and glistening good-time boogies, but more of a gnarly, knuckled kinda tumbler, stuff to bounce off the walls to that, yet, still…uncannily, might stick in your head with a subtly sutured melody or anthemic chorus.

There’s no pressure like Internet-era-pressure; this beguiling and mind-crumbling pressure to substantiate, to defend, the aims of your tacit hipper-than-thou-singling-out of a select-few of songs… What’s the role/use/service of modern criticism? Are we a dramaturge? Some kind of quality control for amped frequency of buzzing for (a/many) band(s)? Are we an advocate for new forms exciting, provocative (and hopefully progressive / uncontrived / and definitely-not-derivative) forms? Blog-bellwethers…

All this verbiage, just cooks me up into a rip-it-up-and-start-again mentality. Makes me want to howl (like Cherewick) or kick something (like Protomartyr’s drums), or shred…like Ferdy Mayne… you get the point.

Music memoirist Chuck Klosterman once posited that much of criticism is actually veiled autobiography. So, take it with grains of salt, these are the sounds that bent my ear in beautiful and refreshing ways, this year…

If there’s any profundity here, it’s to remark upon the fact that I’m hearing a lot more intriguingly aggressive-yet-pop-minded tunes, these strange punk gradations, coming from the Ypsi-area, than I do Detroit these days. But that all depends on where you listen… and how closely…

Anyhow, with the exception of the first entry (which comes from Detroit but has a notable and nifty single streaming below,) these are my 2012 favorites of this kind of freaked-up form: -the NewWeird of NewYpsi/Arbor punk/unpunk:

Protomartyr – No Passion, All Technique


Chit-Chat – Demos (debut)

Bad Indians – The Sun People EP –

“If I Had The Chance”

Ferdy Mayne – Brothers and Sisters EP –

“Quaint Mosaic of Fate”

Congress – Makers EP –

“Holy Roller”

Five, right? That’s a nice-round number…


About the Author

Jeff Milo
Jeff Milo
Jeff is another awesome member of the iSPY team.

Mike Vial at Woodruff's

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