We could put an introduction here that talks about how great the C-U music scene is, but I think you understand how great it is. Let’s just let our BEST series indicate that C-U is, well, a pretty darn good place to be in terms of music (…and arts, culture, food & drink, sports. You get the picture). Certainly there are plenty of bases to cover in C-U in terms of music, but we tend to focus on a particular area, which is okay if you ask us. And it is alright if you disagree, but It’s our turn to discuss who caught our eye in the past year in music. Here it goes… (PS)
Grandkids have grown up a lot over the last year. Let me stress that, first off. They were showing signs of being one of the best in town through their previous material in a couple of decent EPs and spotty live shows in the area here and there. As they entered the studio to record their highly anticipated full-length record, few had any idea of what we would get out of them. We had been given glimpses of what they were capable of, but it took time to digest and evolve into what we have today. But in order to get recognized as BEST in the Band category, you’ve got to have the entire package going for you: recording, live show, originality, persistence, and ambition. Let’s not forget personality, we know these kids have lots of that. Well, I guess I’ll stop right here in saying that now, they’re not kids anymore. They’re the real deal.
Overall, Grandkids have had a stellar past twelve months. I feel like all of that accumulated and exploded as they crushed it at Pygmalion last year with the sun beating down on them, showcasing a ton of their new material. Then, to top it all off, they released their new record, Timeshare, in March. Game over. For the strides they’ve made over the past year, it really is a no-brainer.
Despite the news that Grandkids are moving on from C-U soon (if not already since school has come to a close), we’re appreciative of their time here and what they’ve given to us across the board. No doubt about it. (PS)
GRANDKIDS — TIMESHARE
I could continue to rave about this band as I just did, but if you don’t get it by now, you might get your head out of the sand and listen to this record. It’s an early front-runner for our Album of the Year already and it’s only May. There’s a lot more music set to come in 2013, but this one has been ringing in our ears for the past few months.
Believe us, we didn’t plan on picking BEST Band and Album together, but it just kind of worked out that way. If you’ve listened, you know why.
2012 was a spectacular year for local music. Considering Withershins, Deathtram, Megan Johns, Sun Stereo, and many others released awesome records, it was going to take a serious contender to oust those releases. The fact is, Timeshare is a distinguished piece of work that reflects a band who as Chris Davies pointed out, is on their way up the ranks, and for good reason.
As I stated above, everything fell into place for Grandkids after a couple of EPs that gave us a taste, but were really just a tease in many ways. It wasn’t even a whole bite of what we were about to get with Timeshare. (PS)
ANNA KARENINA/ANNA KARINA — Autobiographies EP
Anna Karenina/Anna Karina + Take Care/Withershins/jack of all trades drummer Luke Bergkoetter approached me last year after we picked their Autobiographies EP as one of the best records of the year in 2012 and said, “Really?” I’ll chalk it up to modesty.
In all reality, though, the band’s Autobiographies EP is a great indicator of what potential there is on the horizon for them. Stemming from a project between front man Cole Rabenort and Bergkoetter and Midstress’ Mikal Brakett, it’s easy to see the potential here. This EP has been played many times through my speakers over the last year, and we’re looking forward to seeing what they have in store for a full length, if they ever take a break from other projects they have going on. (PS)
BEST LIVE BAND
We have quite the well-documented love affair with Common Loon here at Smile Politely. We got over it last year. You should too. It’s not an easy task to remain a captivating, productive, and relevant band in an insular music scene, but Common Loon pull it off because it always seems to be about the music for them. They aren’t in this to get laid. They aren’t in this to get wasted. (Nothing wrong with either of those things.)
Robert Hirschfeld and Matt Campell clearly care about their craft and their live shows are a testament to the kind of care they put into their message, into their art. It’s this earnest approach to live music that allows them to blow you away each time they take the stage. They don’t need party tricks or gimmicks. Loud, lush, and always engaging, Common Loon shows pull you in and force you to reflect. They let the music do the talking and that is a refreshing sight to behold. (CC)
BEST NEW BAND
Swimming upstream in a sea of indie-rock hopefuls, the Fights haven’t had to work too hard to stand out as one of the best up-and-coming bands in the local scene. Their alt-country twang has been a refreshing change of pace from the usual HUM-hopefuls that have come and gone over the last few years. With plenty of slide guitar and good ole’ country heartache, the Fights are poised to riff and twang their way into your heart; or at least your summer plans. Their self-titled EP is a testament to both their honest delivery and, we hope, another year of country-ish tunes. (CC)
BEST PUNK/HARDCORE BAND
WIth the release of a couple of EPs and a full-length on its way later this year, Hank. has been holding it down in the punk scene over the past year. They’ve been busting their asses on tours and performing here in town, and doing just about everything else in between. Oh yeah, and they make pretty awesome music. They’re a crossover band in a lot of ways, but hold up and wave that punk flag pretty damn high. Busting your ass in music can get you a long way if you are up for the challenge, no matter what type of music you’re making. They’ve risen and become one of the best bands in town, not just in the punk scene or genre. All around they’re doing great things in this town, and their music speaks for itself. Oh yeah, and this guy you might have heard of, his name is Wayne Coyne? Yeah — he even thinks so, too. (PS)