By Chris Gray
By Corey Deiterman
By Jef With One F
By Chris Gray
By Rocks Off
By Rocks Off
Only in Houston
It's that time of year — it has been since, like, November — for rock writers to show everyone else how cool they think they are with their year-end best-of lists. How obscure can you get? How controversial can you be with your choices?
This best-of list is geared toward my favorite local albums of the year, the ones that grabbed me and shook me for weeks and months on end. No beers, shots or free merch were involved. I swear.
10. Come See My Dead Person, Come See My Dead Person: Released in early December, CSMDP was a latecomer this year. The Galveston gypsy-folk-rock bleeders' self-titled album came heralded by lead single "John Doe," a grim and grimy bounce through the graveyard or the killing floor of a slaughterhouse.
9. Female Demand, Outside the Universe: Luckily, the now-defunct Female Demand dropped this LP before they called it quits. Outside the Universe, their first full-length LP after two EPs, is infinitely groovier and more aggressive. Bassist Bradley Muñoz and drummer Jonathan Perez created one of the most hectic live experiences we've seen in years, trapping crowds inside a harsh bubble of sound, sweat and light.
8. A Sea Es, A Sea Es: Austin Smith's 11-track debut album as A Sea Es wowed me with his multilayered, kaleidoscopic sound. Fans of Animal Collective, Harry Nilsson, T. Rex and the Beach Boys will not be disappointed.
7. Sunrise and Ammunition, Tesseract: Zooming into my radio late in 2012 was Sunrise and Ammunition's Tesseract, one of the most amplified local albums of the year. The power trio benefited from production and mixing by NY-based producer Jesse Cannon, who streamlined the harsher elements of S&A's last two EPs into something less scatterbrained.
6. Weird Party, Hussy: Weird Party is like this elusive Houston black bear that appears randomly from the wilderness, mauls a few passersby and drops an eight-cut album called Hussy with a pair of huge tits on the cover. Then it retreats — not to rest but to wait. More, please.
5. Buxton, Nothing Here Seems Strange: Buxton has been on the road touring behind their New West debut for the majority of the past year, working an album into which they had poured the last five years of their lives. Nothing Here Seems Strange got progressively better with each listen, no small feat when most 2012 albums were one-pump chumps. "Oh My Boy" and "Boy of Nine" are two of the biggest standouts, building up promise for an even more harrowing follow-up.
4. The Niceguys, James Kelley: There was nothing nice about the Niceguys' James Kelley. Burly, angry, imposing and fucking exciting, tracks like "OVERTOAST" and "Ain't Life Grand" made Kelley an instant HOU classic. Cheers to the money gods.
3. Grandfather Child, Grandfather Child: This past year, Grandfather Child bandleader Lucas Gorham told me something about his band that most other acts in town wouldn't have the stones to utter anywhere. "I like to think that when someone sees a Grandfather Child show, they are experiencing a church service devoid of religion," he said. "No disrespect to religion." His band's self-titled debut made good on the promise of their long-running live shows, with nine tracks of salacious Prince/Frank Zappa-infused stomp and an ever-so-light touch of twang.
2. Venomous Maximus, Beg Upon the Light: It's been awhile since an album by a Houston band made me wanna light black candles in my living room and put a druid's cloak on my dog. There's no telling how many times I caught myself at the gym trying to replicate Maximus drummer Bongo's parts here on the elliptical machine. Beg Upon the Light was probably the best Texas metal album of 2012, a fun, riff-heavy, assaultive party record.
1. B L A C K I E, GEN: No one else in Houston was this bare and honest this year. GEN didn't prove that B L A C K I E is gifted; no, he did that a long time ago with hundreds of sweat-stained gigs across the globe. GEN proved that Michael LaCour is in this for life, not as a musician but as a capital-A Artist. It largely left behind the walls of sound you knew from B L A C K I E's last three EPs and 2008 debut LP for horns, keyboards and acoustic guitars. Its haunting, harried, hellish choruses were more like the blues than the damaged hip-hop that made B L A C K I E an underground institution — folk music fed through his noise thresher.
Our other writers chime in with their 2012 local favorites.
Corey Deiterman: Buxton's Nothing Here Seems Strange is the culmination of the sound the La Porte natives have been pursuing for years now. Our folky indie-rock band's New West debut not only proved worth the wait, but delivers on all the promise shown by their earlier releases. Combining the members' disparate influences (from Nick Cave and Wilco to Björk, Converge and Circa Survive) into a cohesive whole, it's not only a great album, but all the work that went into the production makes it one of the year's best-sounding releases as well.