It’s so hard a trick to allude to the Fab Four with any sense of cultural urgency that most conjurers are totally loathe to let that trick have a go in front of a live studio audience. The written medium is only slightly less forgiving. But throwing in the proper amount of gravitas seems like a damn good idea, as this year in Albuquerque was filled with awesome local releases. How else do you account for such a fecund, year-long record harvest season? You might as well blame the Beatles, the four thousand holes every band since then has crept into or out of, or the critics that describe the process that keeps rocranrol ruling the known universe.
A proliferation of smallish studios, a burgeoning group of young, tech-savvy musicians raised right here in Burque—who were taught to break boundaries, to seek the edge by local teachers—and an insouciantly confident DIY culture at the heart of the scene are all part of a potent formula for making way-listenable cultural artifacts. That said, here, in chronological order, are some of Weekly Alibi’s favorite local records from the year 2017.
• Before they headed out to better digs in Califas last spring, Dillon Cullinan of Adult Beverage recorded one of the all-time noisiest, lo-fi, sad surf, ocean-in-your-eye, guitars flaming-in-your-heart epics ever heard in Dirt City, as Dillon PC. That album is called Pleasure Club; shit gets serious with “Wet Body Ultra” and “Sun Dress.” Then, there’s that thing with audience expectations too; just when listeners get used to drifting coarsities, something comes out of the speakers that is beautiful and smooth. Rock on, Dillon, rock on.
• This one really came out years ago, but was re-released this vyear via LM Duplication and Bandcamp, which puts it well in range of my critical faculties! Describing the compositional, tonal, melodic, technical and/or ethnomusicological complexity of the record called Darkness at Noon, which was made by a duo known as A Hawk And a Hacksaw (who are Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost from Duke City, N.M.) would be akin to spending the next three lines of text trying to tell you the plot to Ulysses, so I must insist you just listen. If you aren’t totally blown away in the first seven minutes, then damn. If you aren’t dancing ecstatically by the time the second track “The Moon Under Water” comes on, then heaven help you. Trost’s attention to melodic development and exposition combined with Barnes’ keen knowledge and use of folk-forms make this a must-have shiny musical disc.
• Fuguers Cove is one of the nom de plumes of underground artist Justin Bendell, a dude who really does live somewhere deep in the Manzano Mountains where he writes, makes music and watchs the clouds. Serio. He’s recorded heaps of music since appearing in this part of the material world, but his summer album release, Colours of our Sickness, is like totally sick in its mastery and twisted exression of pop music and guitar rock tropes. Track 12, “Colours of our Love,” reaches toward exhuberant rock anthem status, almost casually, with blistering drums leading the way. I predict The Oh Sees are going to make this album, but maybe not until 2019.
• Here, I’ll describe Lindy Vision: post disco guitar-friendly electronica with serious no-wave instrumental cred, augmented with the angsty, confessional narrative of disappointment and distress, vocalized darkly as an undulating blue velvet curtain. Then they get the Casio out … Jute is finely crafted and the knowing nods to rich ’70s production standards by the folks at Sonic Ranch, as well as cryptic and tantalizing titles like “Pills” and “Trying” add to the allure of listening to what, in many ways, is essentially an album of the blues filtered through the age of the mutli-colored, manic, molecular dance floor.
• The best thing about Castle, the new work by Kris Kerby disguised as ICUMDRUMS, is that lurking beneath a wide-berthed symbolism of frantic, inescapable darkness, it is actually a joyful work, full of life and daring in its approach to musicality, tension and the release induced by the pounding rhythm of the universe—which Kerby obviously hears all the live long day, as evidenced by gems like the title track. Elsewhere on the record—in a world listeners can drop into and out as if hanging around the banks of the Styx for a quick dip in the cold dark water—Kerby rages (“Pig”) and grooves (“Color”) and sometimes just seems to float above all the noise, towering, as it were.
• I tried all sorts of ways to imagine how an insect called the cicada can be used to analogize a local band who’s output more rightly resembles a flight of fiery, lower-register dragons. But I only came up with the perpetual resonance of being, dripping away, one measure at a time—conceits that may not have been possible had I not listened to tracks like “Adobe” and “Burn It All Up,” from one of the most troubling yet tender audio creations made this year, a work made by Chicharra. It’s intensely concentrated and executed with an almost intuitive sense of cloudy order and rock solid disorder. Let’s Paint Town In Craters, indeed.