Pure Pleasure :: Six releases, old and new, that punched my ticket this year

Words: Christopher Laramee

White Hills – The new lords of space rock

Carlton Melton
Photos of Photos
Agitated Records
2012

This San Franciscan three piece came out of nowhere (for me) and blew my head clean off. Spaced synthscapes and burnt riffs for days, these guys up the ante and stand out in a BIG way in a scene crowded with delay-soaked longhairs. Check out their back catalogue for more sublime raunch. John McBain (Monster Magnet) plays, and also mixed and mastered the thing. DO NOT IGNORE THIS ONE!

Pharoah Sanders
Karma
Impulse
1969

This one’s been in my racks for a couple of years and I never gave it a proper listen. My mistake. The true post-Coltrane godhead of reed-destroying madness, Karma surprises with some quiet, interstellar passages, and Leon Thomas’ scat/spoken narrative guiding you through the storm of rattled percussion and hot tongues. Pure pleasure, from start to finish.

The Chinese Restaurants
River of Shit 7″
S.S. Records
2010

Wow. That was my first response. Props to my man Ben for the tip on this one (and Carlton Melton). Along with the Soggy 2LP reissue, this is one of the best PURE rock releases in quite some time. Lo-fi? Yup. Noisy as all fuck? Sorted. Obama samples? Check. Now, do we got a song which is a straight version of THEM’s “Gloria” with new lyrics called “Queen of the Skanks”? Absolutely, my friend! What are you still doing reading this?

Curtis Mayfield
There’s No Place Like America Today
Curtom Records
1975

Can’t quit this one. An under-appreciated classic if there ever was one. A reflection of mid ’70s urban decay and collapse that only lets in some light occasionally, this album should be as revered as Marv’s What’s Going On. Stark as daylight drums rise from the floorboards and try to pull you down with them. Down where, you ask? Down to hell, bro. And guess what? It’s just a few blocks down the road. As topical today as it was then.

The Men
Immaculada
Self-Released
2010

Just got this one a few weeks ago. I sure dig the two records that came after, but this one pulls my goalie in a real wicked way. Hmmm, let’s see what comes to mind. Black Flag circa My War, uh, Boston’s lost heroes The Swirlies, some KARP, and uh, well let’s just say there’s a bit of amplifier abuse happening here. The second song “Problems/Burning Up” kills the lights and goes for the lapels with a LOT of subway swagger. Worth checking for that one alone.

White Hills
Frying on this Rock
Thrill Jockey
2012

The new lords of space rock come correct yet again. I find it disgustingly strange that this band has yet to break the whole fuckin’ scene wide open and be hailed as the King and Queen they rightly should be. I guess being one of the top live acts in the world and putting out ROCK MASTERWORKS with alarming regularity doesn’t count for shit these days. Mark my words, when that douchebag from KINGS OF LEON (I dunno, you pick which one…) is drooling in his own barf behind a Denny’s dumpster a few years from now, these fine folks will be in their crystal palace recording concept albums about Rasputin rising from the dead or something like that. That’s the world I want to live in.