On to the second part of our three-part best of Springfield music 2016 series, and that is the album/releases that were released by local bands this year! There were a lot of them this year too – we counted a grand total of 34 local releases come out that we could list off… which is a whopping whole 10 releases more than the 24 we had on our list last year. Springfield bands were more active than ever in 2016, which also made it even harder to narrow things down for us to ten releases to highlight! Here are ten of your favorites as voted for in our poll, complete with an embedded player for each release and a writeup done by a different Springfield musician or someone involved in the DIY music scene.
10. Stereo Static – The Neat EP
Every year, Springfield continues to up its game. This poll is always one of those end year benchmarks for me. I get an at-a-glance of what our small town is capable of, what Springfield can bring to the table culturally. 2016 brought so many great releases, one being Stereo Static’s “The Neat EP.” You can hear the band walk through their hallways of influence, but they didn’t take any of the pictures off those walls. They didn’t make it very easy to drop the EP into one of my normal containers sentences like, “The EP is pretty good, it sounds kinda like Everclear mixed with Sponge.” Even though I think it’s true and I love it when bands sound like Everclear, I just don’t think it feels entirely correct wrapping the EP up that way. They’re not a mid-era grunge pop throwback. The group is uniquely aggressive, edged with attitude that isn’t afraid of melody. A bright moment of that is the intro of “Hung By The Calendar.” I had to play it few times in a row while cleaning the baby toy refuse in my living room this afternoon. Personally, Stereo Static is an enticing up and coming band. I look forward to their sophomore effort. If they’re use this as a foundation, it’ll play right up my alley once again. – Cory VanMeter (Attic Salt, Say Something)
9. The Suction Cups – Do They Walk Among Us?
Coming straight from the depths of a story written by H.P. Lovecraft, The Suction Cups arrived on the scene late last year bringing a slew of classic surf riffs and spooky sounds. Shub-Cthiguth, Voice and Vizier of Those Who Dwell Above and Beneath, C-15425, Lillian Harleaux, and Michael the Werewolf all come together to create some of the most stand-out sounds of 2016. ‘Do They Walk Among Us?’ serves as a great introduction to one of Springfield’s most creative group. Fav track: Nosferskatu *** – Austin Connelly (GRINN, Wir Können)
8. Animals With Human Names – The First Tape
Sorry if this sounds selfish by Animals With Human Names (The First Tape) was released at the perfect time for me, I am in constant need of local tunes for Lincolns Legends projects. It’s never easy to find a local musician/band that I can incorporate seemly into any production situation accept The First Tape. I am inspired by the unapologetic nods to old school hip hop and house music. My only worry is over use because every track is on point. Props to the Jim Whitehead and his production team. I’m already looking forward to the next installment. *Please don’t be mad if you hear your tracks under all my vlogs.* – Jeremie Bailey (Lincoln’s Legends)
7. Pretend I’m Not There – Transient
Pretend I’m Not There is one of B.J. Pearce’s projects. B.J., if you don’t know, is a hard-working Springfield musician active in the punk and experimental scenes. Transient, PINT’s first official release, is one piece of music almost 25 minutes long, divided into two sections (via fade-in and fade-out) for A and B sides of a cassette tape. Presumably, this is mostly or entirely B.J. on instrumentation.
The contrasts between the peaks and valleys here are truly formidable. Low-fi voice recordings appear and reappear out of a mix of pop culture talking and yelling—excerpts from the movie No Country for Old Men, for example—repeating ad infinitum until they themselves seem to become an instrument. The guitar erupts and dives into distortion—tremolo bar pushed down to its limit—and then suddenly it echoes off like a crazed animal. There are beautiful interludes, as well. Hushed, dark passages of entrancing proper chords like major 7ths, albeit placed in strange configurations. You can even hear the faint electrical buzz of the guitar rig during parts of quiet overdrive, if that attests to the stillness of some of these moments, and while those times are not without a layer of grit themselves, they nevertheless contrast heavily and deeply with the periodic bursts of noisy guitar and speech. Finally, a whole other level feels achieved on side B with the emotional spoken word poetry of guest artist HONEY/SUCK.
There seem to be elements of chaos and violence in the forefront here, especially in the passion of HONEY/SUCK’s words, though in a more subtle way this album is like the entire, complex, and varied life of a vigorous but damaged human being compressed and twisted into a short time. To fully appreciate Transient you have to be relatively accepting of that sense. Overall, its genre tags on Bandcamp (“ambient” and “ambient drone”) are rather misleading, however, and perhaps intentionally so, since if you go into this expecting to hear mellifluous, ostensibly “ambient” sounds similar to Marconi Union, Brian Eno, Stars of the Lid, or what have you, it’s a total rug-pulling feeling, which is interesting in and of itself. Could that be a practical joke perhaps, intentional or otherwise? After all, listening to this release, categorically it’s much more “experimental noise” than it is anything close to traditional ambient. It actually more reminds one of the wildest moments of Sonic Youth or its offshoots. In many ways, even so, Transient is quite difficult to categorize, and that’s very much telling of its timeless value.
Springfield is better off for B.J., Pretend I’m Not There, and Transient. Going forward we need lots more art this daring and adventurous. Hearing the energy of this tape it’s easy to feel like that might just happen. – Timothy Donavan Russell
6. Moondead – Moondead
With song titles like “Moon”, “Ghost”, and “Void”, I think it’s pretty clear what the heck this band is about: Spooky goth-rock. What those single syllable titles don’t get at, though, is how gosh danged GOOD this band is. It grooves, it jams, it freaking THRASHES. That rhythm section is so tight, with sweet bass licks(there’s SLAP BASS on the last track) that perfectly intertwine with some of the tightest, most technical drums you’ll ever hear in any goth rock band. The vocals are driving, powerful and in places frantic in the best way. Their self-titled release has been and continues to be my favorite release this year, and definitely deserves a spot on the top 10 releases of this year. In short, 11/10 thrashiest darn goth music I ever done heard. Go listen to their track “Void” and have a damn good time. – Austin Tate (The Suction Cups)
5. Starlorde – Starlorde
This vaguely threatening 4 song EP is the sonic equivalent of a jumping spider giving you crazy eyes as you step into the shower. It may be comparatively small when stacked up against everything else in the room, but it’s the only thing you’re paying attention to because you’re just not sure where it’s gonna go next, and it might decide to jump on your face and bite. Quite simply, this EP is crammed full of all the stuff that makes me love local punk rock: complete lack of genre concern, flippant irreverence, drawings of spaceships, hyperactive riffs with stabby minor progressions on guitars that sound like an electrified fence doing its best to contain a fuming, growling rhythm section, indecipherable vocals set low in the mix of unpredictable songwriting, all wrapped up and shoved into strange little blasts that scoff at the idea of breaking the 2 minute mark. Did I make it through the EP without my face being bitten? Yes, but to play it safe, I’d suggest keeping an eye on Starlorde. – Stimey Grinds (The Death Scene)
4. Our Lady – Lure
This is one of the most dynamic records I’ve heard come out of Springfield in quite some time. Our Lady’s final gift to their fans was beautifully captured by Brandon Carnes at South Town Studios (soon to re-open as South Town Sound) back in August under the unforgiving Midwest heat. If you haven’t had the opportunity to take in this album in it’s entirety through headphones, do yourself a favor and set aside 42 minutes and 29 seconds to do exactly that. There are so many layers. One thing I’ve always appreciated about Our Lady is that so much attention is devoted to every aspect of every composition. We all know that music is art, but Our Lady had a gift that few others possess; and that is the ability to “paint” such vivid pictures with their words and music. ‘Lure’ is the perfect finale to Our Lady’s exciting six-year ride. Eleven songs of pure emotion and despair. Each song bleeds perfectly into the next and takes the listener on a journey that leaves you feeling like you’ve been punched right in the fucking gut. Unlike previous releases, I can’t really pick out a song that stands out beyond the others, although it did make me smile to hear Jess Knight come back and contribute guest vocals on “Olive Leaves”, as she was one of the original members of this band. This is one of those rare albums that was put together so perfectly that it really should be enjoyed from start to finish in one sitting.
You know when you put on a certain record and you are completely immersed in it from the first note all the way up to the very last and simply cannot be pulled away from it for any reason? Yeah…this is one of those records. Thanks for everything over the past six years, Our Lady. It’s been one hell of a ride. You’ll be missed. – Anthony Bollero (Some Things Can’t Be Ignored)
3. Fuck///\\\Mountain – The I Love You Project
I see the music on Fuck Mountain’s “I Love You Project” as more than just post-rock / ambient / alternative / whatever other genres you could fit it in.
What I appreciate about this album is how it brings the listener into a moving soundscape, with highly personal voicemail recordings of unique and varying ‘I love yous’ stringing throughout a gentle yet intricate, and beautiful yet powerful crystalline ambience. The album features a refreshing continuum of simply titled instrumentals, conveying a singular and yet complex message.
And it reminds me – during one of my very first meaningful conversation with Brandon Carnes, he said to me “I want to live forever; I love being alive,” and despite the fact that I myself was in a difficult state mentally at the time, those words rang so truly to me as if they were my own.
I remembered and continue to remember just what life and the ones I love in my life mean to me, and it opens my heart to a gratitude and joy when I listen to “I Love You Project”, even when presented with experiences of pain or loss. I believe many of those who listen to this album can also resonate with these feelings.
“In case I can’t tell you tomorrow,
I Love You
Please don’t forget.”
– Kiki Walker (Moondead, Shark Week)
2. Pryss – I Fear No Man
So, I’m biased. I’m close friends with all 4 members of PRYSS. I also live with 3 of them and myself and Drew (the guitar one) co-named the band (70% me, 30% them TBH) so please take everything I say with a grain of salt.
Just kidding, take this all at face value. If PRYSS sucked (and they don’t) I wouldn’t be writing this. I would just quietly pull you aside and say “Hey, this band is not good.” But Pryss is one of the hardest hitting and most uncompromising punk bands out today and “I Fear No Man” is, for my money, the best punk demo to come out of Springfield this year. Maybe the best ever.
The way “I Fear No Man” is constructed is beautiful in it’s simplicity. It’s not long, running around 7 minutes, but song is a slammer, every track a hit. Gus’ lyrics are clever without rubbing your nose it. Cutting and crude in equal measure. With lines like: “Face the fact, drop your act, you shit more from your mouth than you do from your ass” barked with the precision of a prize fighter’s punches.
Tater Cronin returns to drums for the first time since Mouthsex (only posers dont remember Mouthsex) and this is Blue Parks’ first band since Wilt Candy became inactive a while back. Both of them have grown leaps and bounds as performers between then and now and this demo wouldn’t be the same without their presence. As for Drew? Well they’ve been in approximately 420 bands over the past few years but this is their first as a guitarist. They learned guitar shortly before this recording which is remarkable because you wouldn’t know from listening.
This demo is brutal, savage, and primative. But never stupid. It’s the soundtrack to brass knuckles and acrylic nails striking the oppressor in his cheek. This is radical dominance over toxic masculinity. This is PRYSS. – Mike Tirehaus (Livin’ Thing)
1. Livin’ Thing – It’s A Livin’ Thing
Tapes tapes tapes. Nowadays kids are into tapes, they are talkin bout tapes, startin tape clubs, all kinds a stuff. When I heard about this I thought to myself “hey, I still listen to all my tapes I’ve had since the nineties, this could be a chance for me to make a friend”. So I went down to Dumb’s Record Store to scope out this new tape teen scene. It was in a bad neighborhood. I was frightened. I walked up to the counter and said “Hey what are some good tapes please.” The girl behind the counter ignored me and continued to smack her gum and read her hardy boys novel. I think her name tag said Claira. I then proceeded to grab the first tape I saw and put it in my pocket and snuck out the door. Stealing from the record store is very punk rock. When I got home I took the tape out of my pocket and it was the demo for THE IT’S A LIVING THING BAND GROUP. It had a drawing of a child boy on the cover in pretty earth tones. I put the tape in the deck and hit play, not knowing what the heck to expect….
The first thing I heard was a birthday song by the SHOWBIZ PIZZA BAND recorded at the wrong speed. I thought “whoever this band is needs to learn to dub a tape LOL”. Then after the unintentional glitch at the beginning of the tape the music kicked in. “DANG!!!” I thought. It grabbed my attention that’s for sure. Then the words started: “YOU, WILL, DIE OF COMFORT!” I thought “wow this is gonna be a good tape”, and it was. It was a real nice tape. The energy and chaos in their sound reminded me of how I feel when I drink a monster. It pumped me up! I listened to it front to back over and over again. I thought this is so punk, it’s gotta be a warp tour band from the 90s”. So I logged into online to do some research, and to my surprise it was a band of young supple boys. “Dang, these boys can rock the casbah!” I listened to the tape while looking at photos of them rocking and rolling. I could almost picture their lead singer Milk gracefully swaying in his un buttoned Hawaiian shirt, and imagine the band that backs him up dancing along as they play in their very professional sparkly jump suits. It was cool to hear a tape that was new, but sounded good. So cool. After hearing THE IT’S A LIVING THING BAND GROUP’S demo tape there is no doubt in my mind they will make it as a big time punk band just like Stone Temple Pilots. I give it 5 out 5 mohawks. – Evan Mitchell (The Nine Elevens)