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Spanspek's Favorite Music of 2016 - Local Albums

What's up! This is it folks, we made it to the end of another year! And what a doozy it was. We saw a few local venues call it quits and some come under intense scrutiny by parties both well intentioned and not. Yet we also got to see a bunch of young bands flourish and a few old timers up and tour the country. It seems like the local scene is at a point of transition. And that's kinda of scary. But it can be exciting too. I'm hoping for more of the latter in 2017.

Ok, so on this last post we're gonna share our favorite local albums of 2016.  It's my favorite blog to write (though it takes for damn ever to do) and I'm looking forward to hear what y'all think!  But before we get to that Spanspek Co-Founder Israel Flores and myself would like to thank everyone  that has supported Spanspek this year. You are all really cool people and without your support we couldn't do any of this!  So THANK YOU! And you know, if you want to kick a few scrills our way to help us keep doing what we do just head on over to the TULARE COUNTY ARTS CONSORTIUM WEBSITE and click on the link at the bottom of the page!

And that's it! Lets talk favorite albums of the year! Everyone on this list is super talented and the music they've created is great! Please go to their respective sites, buy some music, and go to their shows cause these bands deserve your attention! 


10.

Artesia (Reedley, CA)
Walkalina
Young band with a singer whose aged vocals bring to mind the Arctic Monkeys Alex Turner. A wonderful first foray into the local scene, full of easygoing melodies accompanying awkward interactions (see the great "El Conquistador"). Unfortunately the band hasn't played much since releasing Walkalina back in January. Here's hoping we see more of them in 2017.

9.

Fatty Cakes & the Puff Pastries (Fresno, CA)
Feminist Gold 2K
There's a ton of punk and hardcore bands that scream and play loud and act violent. And you know what, that shit is boring. This, this right here: this is audacious. Fatty Cakes and the Pastries Puff are out there battling "social norms" and stereotypes with their doowop group gone bad aesthetic. It's a bold way to operate, earning the band friends and enemies in equal measure. I imagine it's been hard, but I hope they keep it up, cause in the Age of Trump it's gonna be hella necessary for someone to tell it like it is.

8.
Ersatz Splynter (Dinuba, CA)
Lalochezia (Fake Four Inc.)
The fastest rapper in the biz makes his fantastic indie label debut on this saxophone/melodica heavy opus. The beats are childlike and inventive, like if Sesame Street was the birthplace of hip hop. But that's not to say that there ain't some serious subject matter here. "I Might Know How You Feel" deals in heavy depression while "Grub!" lays out the many benefits of vegan living. It's clean cut but sprawling in its various moods. A great leap forward for the Valley talent.

7.

Beastmaker (Fresno, CA)
Lusus Naturae (Rise Above Records)
Devilish tunes for the Black Sabbath head in all of us. Heavy like a Mack truck, with a generous dose of melody because you know what, Satan likes to party too. These guys wowed at Spanspek 2016, having honed their craft in Europe and multiple U.S. tours. The songs on Lusus Naturae really come alive when heard live. Listen to this album cause it rips, but be sure to see Beastmaker live as soon as you can. It's a whole 'nother level.

6.

Call Me James (Visalia, CA)
s/t
Call Me James just started performing in mid 2015, but the band has already reached it's "serious album" phase. Having released an EP of lively (albiet still lovelorn) songs in early 2016, singer/songwriter Brendon Reese has changed course, the somber tones of the new LP matching the apparent longing in his heart. Throughout the work Reese's vocals dominate, it's sonorous intonations rich with feeling. And Reese still knows his way around a hook, every song as memorable as the last. A strong album through and through.

5.
Cockamamie Jamie (Fresno, CA)
Orca
To quote Jon Lovitz in The Wedding Singer, Cockamamie Jamie is losing his mind, and we're reaping all the benefits. Orca finds Cockamamie Jamie doubling down on everything you know and love about him. WWF wrestler misadventures? Bump "Kamala". Serial killer fantasies? Take listen to "Orca".  Want more skits? There's freaking four of em' (the perplexingly intriguing "Jamie's Been Shot" trilogy, the Maxine epilogue "Special Job"). It's nuts and full of amazing moments. Indie rock crooner and apparent master criminal Morrissey yells not to fuck with his cash at one point for fucks sake ("Moz With A Mossberg")! A messy sprawling classic.

4.
ESTO (Dinuba/Reedley/Fresno, CA)
Crudo
The combination of battle rapper Esem with the dusty beats of producer Nesto made for a potent combination of Voltronesque proportions on the excellent Crudo EP. Like the Madvillain of the Valley, Esem and Nesto's sensibilities perfectly compliment each other; Esems 90's referencing delivery fitting well within the nooks and cranies of Nesto's old school samples. Plus, Crudo features what may be my favorite track of the year in "Babble", the weight gain mocking, fuzzed out high point of the album. The duo is working on more tunes as I write and I cannot WAIT to what they have in store for the masses.

3. 

Personal Computer (Fresno, CA)
s/t (WhatIz)
Like digital angels from Silicon Heaven, Personal Computer came unto me to share their synthly wonders. Not since the early days of Collecto have I heard a Valley band with such technological mastery of electropop. Every song on this self titled EP is irresitably danceable, popping with layers of keyboard deliciousness.  And that's not even the end of it. Members Raul Vasquez and William R. George can sing the SHIT out of theirs hooks, like a computerized Bee Gees. A fun listen that was always on repeat.

2.
Sci-Fi Caper (Fresno, CA)
Star Stuff
Yesterday guest blogger Sam Retton called the surprise album from Friendcore mainstays Sci-Fi Caper "bittersweet". I think that's an appropriate summation of their latest work. Each song is a precious diamond of twee punk perfection, with Emelia Guadarrama's tried and true singing, and guitarist Samuel Lozano relentless riffage, sounding the a faster/louder version of the Pretenders. Yet behind all them tasty licks are accounts of depression, insomnia, and heartbreak. Maybe this is their form of therapy, sharing their sadness with us fans makes it easier to deal with. I don't know, but I'd like to think maybe that's true. There's no band I'd rather share pain and get better with than Sci-Fi Caper.

1.

Le Wolves (Fresno, CA)
s/t
Spanspek's Favorite Album of 2016 took us by surprise. A late release by the gruesome foursome, the self titled debut LP absolutely rips from beginning to end. The obliterative, relentless, lighting pace set by guitarist Nathan DeRaud is carried tenfold by the ferocity of the bands rhythm section and singer Keanu Huerta's gleeful yelps and moans. I don't know how this album was recorded but I imagine it must have been all together at once, with each member greedily feeding off the energy of the other. How else could Le Wolves have sustained such intensity over ten songs?! It's a wonder that the band hasn't destroyed itself by sheer force of their performances!

The self-titled LP is wild (a VERY good thing), kept together by the commanding vocal performances Huerta exhibits on every track. He's like a rock and roll Michael Jackson, his voice embracing guttural utterances and sexy croons within the span of one song (see the expansive "Wizardry"). I mean, I hear his voice and want to punch walls. Like it inspires exuberant violence, like when you're moshing but you're also kind of groovin' out.  The bombastic "Way Back Home" does that to me. Like I'm listening to DeRaud's savage guitar theatrics and the shit's making me type faster than normal.

I can't say enough about this LP. It's great, it's a shot to the kick to the brain, and you need to download this album and see this band live TODAY.

*********************************************************************

  And that's it! Another year come and gone! Thank you again for supporting what we do! We love you and we'll see you in 2017!

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