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Locals Only - Favorite Albums of 2013

YES!  It is time Simba!  Here for your listening pleasure are Spanspek's Favorite Albums of 2013!

Tyrannosaurus Zebra (Visalia/Fresno, CA)
The Taste of Lunch to Come

It’s unknown why Tyrannosaurus Zebra choose to take the name of their newest album from a certified punk classic.  Whatever the reason, it certainly fits with their well-established irreverence toward punk holy grails and ideologies.  Lunch brings more of the same lightening quick barn burners you’ve come to expect from the band, including some rerecording’s of TZ classics.  The threesome shows that sometimes there’s no need to mess with a good thing.

Favorite Child (Fresno, CA)
Collection A (PlasticSkull Music)

Favorite Child was one in a long tradition of great bands that appear out of nowhere, drop an EP, and fall off the face of the Earth, never to be heard from again.  I’m not sure if they’ll ever resurface, but I really hope they do.  The world desperately needs more loud music from bands that aren’t afraid of a little melody with their screams.

Le Wolves (Fresno, CA)
Melted Eyes

Though relatively young, newcomers Le Wolves successfully channel the outlaw spirits of Hank Williams and Bob Dylan on their most recent three song EP.  Lead by the tortured croon of singer Keanu Huerta, the band manifests itself as a smoke saturated bar filled with nefarious ne’er-do-wells looking to shimmy and shake.  It’s young voices making the old sound new and it’s pretty damn good.

Hell08s (Fresno, CA)
Cloaked 2 Tha Brain

Everyone always assumes that the devil’s music of choice is Metal.  Well, doom rap duo Hell08s make a strong case that Satan bumps hip hop while rounding up souls in his ‘64.  On the Mötley Crüe sampling “End of Days” Bones Malone spits unnaturally, as if possessed by a particularly verbose demon.  “Panther Party” shows producer Sea Shock at his ominous best, rending speakers apart with fuzzed out synths and screeches.  Better say your prayers before pushing play.

The Milford Higgins (Fresno, CA)
For No Reason (PlasticSkull Music)

Math rock to the extreme with these guys! The sprawling For No Reason finds the Higgins boys (no relation) expanding their already comprehensive pallet to encompass every time signature, note, and rhythm known to mankind.  Though not all of it works, more often than not the kaleidoscopic sound that emerges is fresh and exciting and worthy of many a listen.

Fatty Cakes (Fresno, CA)
1998 Lisa Frank Diary

Listen up people!  If Madonna was armed nothing more than an organ and a glockenspiel, she’d sound just like Fatty Cakes.  The femme fatale delights on her debut album, exuding humor and charm on tunes about chat room love affairs and mermaid genitalia.  On “Pizza Girlfriend” Fatty Cakes takes the greasy late night delicacy and turns it into one of the greatest sing-alongs of 2013.  The recent addition of live band The Puff Pastries heralds bigger things for the singer in the year to come. 

Dim Peaks (Fresno, CA)
Time of Joy (Gold Robot Records)

Beefing up his solo fare with a full band, singer/songwriter Niilo Smeds produced an album overflowing with woodland jams.  The songs on Time of Joy display the authenticity and craft of an expert carpenter, fashioning objects with calloused hands.  The somber and contemplative moods evoked feel present, but never suffocating, as in the excellent instrumental “Yellow Mountain”.  “Control” likewise sooths with its depiction of spring’s arrival.  A superb debut overall.

Sahab (Fresno, CA)

11:59 depicts a man scorned.   Undone by drugs and the opposite sex, Sahab lashes out by way of exquisitely detailed compositions.  Each piece functions as a movement to the symphony that is his wounded, raging heart.  “Cokehead” depicts Sahab at his angriest, embracing narcotic fueled revenge fantasies.  “Beautiful”, the albums signature track, tempers the anger, focusing on the tormented soul within.  Coupled with Sahabs meticulous production, 11:59 was a headphone masterwork, and one of the most intriguing albums of the year.

Light Thieves (Fresno, CA)
Spirit Homes

It’s been an up and down year for Light Thieves. After raising enough money to release a follow-up to their 7” split debut, the bands rehearsal space was robbed.  The burglars took off with all their hard earned dough, leaving the group to look to the local community for help.  A successful Kickstarter campaign later, the universe saw the release of Spirit Homes, the space rock magnum opus everyone and their mother fell in love with in 2013.  And why wouldn’t they?  Propulsive number “Crystal Maps” was practically a certified summer jam.  From concept to finished product, Light Thieves Spirit Homes freaking kills it.

Cockamamie Jamie (Fresno, CA)
Survivor Series

Of course, in the immortal words of the Highlander, there can be only one truly adored Album of the Year.  And that honor, lowly as it may be, goes to Survivor Series, the hilarious, super offensive, emotionally devastating, flat out amazing debut album from Fresno rhymeslinger Gentle Jamie (formerly Cockamamie Jamie).  Once part of the rap duo the Argyle Pimps, Jamie follows up that groups classic Invisible Jet Skies with a similarly bold effort.  Joined by a slew of collaborators (including Boney Beezly, the second half of the Argyle Pimps), Jamie takes listeners on a tour of his demented mind.  Turtle mutilation, strip club shoot outs, little person beat downs; all manner of insanity is on display.  Whether it’s Bonnie & Clyde banger “Maxine” or the battle rap reunion “Queef” (featuring an all-star turn from Beezly), every song packs a wallop.  On Survivor Series the enigmatic rapper delights with an album that is utterly original and undeniably his own.  Clovis Business y’all.    

Yes!  We did it people!  The Valley is becoming a great place for new music.  It's just amazing to see all the talent that crops up daily.   Here's to the continued growth of the scene and to new friends and to a great year in general.  Salud!  I just took a sip of water!  Now time to eat!  See you soon!

Cristobal Carrillo
December 19, 2013


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