For perhaps the first year in a while, 2008 was very much about new music for me at least. Or, put another away, new musical discoveries. Some of these artists were new, some of them were not, and others I had totally missed along the way – and various people have prompted me to give them a listen. So much music, particularly away from the "mainstream", is discovered by word-of-mouth. Into 2009 I will continue carping on about bands new and old on here, and on Last.fm, and hopefully others will too.
Oh, and talking of ranting about music, Matt's post about the state of the industrial scene yesterday is well worth a read, even if you aren't interested in industrial music – what he says covers just about any other non-mainstream genre too.
So anyway, in one last look at my 2008 in terms of music, here is what I or others uncovered during the year.
I'm still not entirely sure how I managed to totally miss this band until Joza mentioned them way back in the spring. Particularly with their link to one of my favourite bands ever (drummer David Francolini was in Dark Star, the band who inspired my website name, amongst other things)…
Anyway, musically this band take things in a different direction to Dark Star, in that they are less about atmospheres and more about songs, but in a very, very dark way. Broadly, I guess, they are gothic rock. The first track I heard is still their best – the surging Here Are The Roses [Last.fm video] – although Condition runs it close. At points they do come across as a little derivative (Lonely Tonight [Last.fm video] sounds for all the world like Interpol, and Obedience borrows it's sound from mid-80s Depeche Mode), but the album as a whole is great, and the really quite strange remix album is worth a look too.
Probably the only "new" band to gain any mainstream success this year that I have actually liked, this was another that I was somewhat late to the party with. I'd heard Geraldine [Last.fm video] and Daddy's Gone more than a few times, and it was only when I picked up the album last week that I realised I knew It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry [Last.fm video] too. I can't get this damned album out of my head now, either. It has, to me, something of the sweep of Echo & The Bunnymen, or early Doves, and sounds bloody marvellous. Oh, and taking bits from You Are My Sunshine (and making it sound the saddest thing in the world), or using Moonlight Sonata for the basis of a song about being "jumped" in the street takes some guts – particularly in making them work this well.
I really wasn't sure about Peek A Boo when I first heard it, and indeed it took until seeing them live at Infest before I was converted. Yes, it's more icy, female-fronted synthpop, but it works well. Still the pick of their songs, though, is Hanging On [Last.fm video].
I stumbled across EGC thanks to Nigel's constant playing of I've Sold Your Organs On The Black Market To Finance The Purchase Of A Used Minivan, and it turned out that the EP it was released on was pretty damned good, too. Then, later in the year, I finally heard Eric Gottesman's previous project, See Colin Slash, thanks to the appearance of the Cyanotic remix of Hardcore! on a download only release. It's a brilliant dancefloor track, that is for once really worth paying attention to the lyrics on for it's viciously accurate pisstake of being a "rivethead"…
…and oddly enough, there is a vague link at least to this artist from EGC. Well, in fact the first time I really noticed this act was by way of remixes (both on the EGC EP and the Combichrist Frost EP) – well, that and
…and another link from one band to another here is provided by a common label. I got hold of this band's latest album Beyond thanks to a promo from Metropolis, and to be honest to start with I simply couldn't get into it. The sparse electronics, coupled with what appeared to be vocals sung in a somewhat flat baritone, made for something of an uninspiring listen. Still, I left it on my iPod, and over time the album grew on me quite a lot, and suddenly it didn't seem so mundane after all. In fact, a few months on I'd actually recommend giving this a go, although it won't be liked by everyone!
Another band who were not exactly to everyone's taste were this lot – with a massive division of opinion over their appearance at Infest. Personally, I thought they were marvellous, and it certainly inspired me to go and buy one of their albums. A bizarre mix of dancefloor industrial and medieval sounds, when done live it all simply makes much more sense!
New US industrial label Tympanik Audio have had a flying start in 2008, releasing new albums by both established artists and a few new artists, too – and Gravedigger was by some distance my favourite release on the label. The debut release from this Alaskan noisemonger, it's rampaging breakcore, samples and even portions of ambience were well worth the leap in the dark that I took on this one.
Another new artist, whose debut album Tentative Response was released on Chicago label Bit Riot (the home of Cyanotic, of course) and proved to be something of a surprise. Downtempo industrial rhythms, with no hint of vocals and a very, very different sound to just about any other industrial release that I heard in 2008.
Finally, another artist that I totally missed for some time, and was only persuaded to pick up Destruction Unit at Infest by about three or four people. So, duly purchased, the reason why everyone else was raving about it became clear. Top quality industrial music for dancefloors, that while it is another release in a somewhat crowded field, this stood out by being simply the best release of it's kind in 2008. Perhaps I ought to pick up the first album sometime, too…