It’s that time once again, as the countdown to the end of 2016 quickly approaches we take a personal look back on familiar names, features and musicians’ best releases of the past 12 months. In what has been a crazy year of highs and lows it’s the releases that have pulled a lot of people through the year. Now in it’s 6th year, Circuit Sweet will be hosting takeovers from the featured artists/musicians/labels and promoters of the site with their personal top 5 releases of the year.
Our annual end of year tradition is where we let our favourites take over the site to tell us the records that have made their end of year lists, their favourite events/gigs and what we can look forward to from them next year.
Our next take over comes from a band with their own legendary status. We hand over the site to Space Blood and their drummer/synth player William Covert to talk about the Chicago based duo’s year in music. Having had another successful year and promising trip and tour back to the UK in the summer, Space Blood stole the show at ArcTanGent and have gained a reputable fan base. William shares more..
SPACE BLOOD – Chicago, IL
Top 5 releases of the year
Rot Forever was my soundtrack throughout most of 2016. It is a true musical tour-de-force and an incredibly earnest album that reaches the depths of feeling incredibly personal while also hitting cathartic highs and existential woes. A real trademark of the album is the band’s ability to interweave post-punk, indie rock, emo, and post-rock in a way that while sounds nostalgic and familiar at the same time sounds radically different than anything any of their contemporaries are doing. Rot Forever is also a 16 song, double LP, which is quite the statement the band was making, but when listening to the full album it makes perfect sense for its long duration and the album kind of has a Husker Du Zen Arcade feeling in its connectedness of musical and lyrical themes. Singer/guitarist Isaac Eiger crafts lyrics that show him to be wise beyond his years, and also engages in several different vocal techniques throughout the album that is pretty unique and makes the album standout in its melodic originality and subtle complexities. Since the release of the album, Sioux Falls have changed their name to Strange Ranger, but the name change does not affect the musical beauty of this masterpiece. I also got to play a show with these guys when they toured through Chicago this spring and seeing these songs played live and meeting the guys in the band only solidified my love for this album.
The debut album by Adam Betts of Three Trapped Tigers is nothing short of a musical mind meld that is unlike any other drum focused solo album that came out this year or any other year for that matter. From the opening track “Drumbones” Betts lays down the groundwork for the album of mixing acoustic drums with electronic drums and other synthesized sundries. I don’t think there’s been a drummer since Bill Bruford to mix acoustic drums with electronic drums with such a focus on melody, and this is not just a drum solo album. It’s so almost impossible to believe Betts did it all himself, but he uploaded YouTube videos of the live in the studio recordings of the songs, which is mind blowing in their own accord. If you like Betts main project Three Trapped Tigers, this album is definitely for you especially if you like their more ‘out there’ songs. It’s a great blend of IDM with math rock and electronic music that puts Adam Betts in a length of his own in contemporary drumming.
Hailing from Denton, Texas, BIGHAND//BIGKNIFE delivered one of the most solid noise rock albums in ages. Mixing influences from classic noise rock bands like The Jesus Lizard (especially the vocals) and Unsane along with doom and post-hardcore Winner’s Cup is a pummeling album that is head banging material from beginning to end. The album also contains just enough math rock elements to make the songs have a feeling of complexity while also maintaining a very straight ahead noise rock vibe. Each song delivers on big riffs, heavy beats, and a whole lot of breakdowns.
The sophomore album from Candian punk rockers PUP continues where their S/T album left off with catchy hooks, punk energy, and mathy riffs thrown in for good measure. Lyrically the album is as sharp as a knife and tracks like “DVP” and “Doubts” are pop-punk anthems that are accessible beyond punk genre lines with its flirtation with math rock and indie rock elements sprinkled without.
I don’t know how to categorize Cracked Vessel, and I’m glad for that. They have become one of my favorite local bands in Chicago and their album No Path is one of the most original albums I’ve heard come out of Chicago in some time. The album blew me away the first time I listened to it, and every time I thought I could expect what would come next the music would go in a totally opposite direction. The band does an amazing job mixing black metal with hardcore, doom, and post-rock, but they do not, and I repeat they do not sound like Deafheaven or trying to jump on the black metal mixed with shoegaze and post-rock trend. Cracked Vessel is a band composed of Chicago scene veterans who create incredibly sincere and authentic music that comes through in their music. No Path is totally unique to what most other heavy bands are trying to accomplish in an album, and I can’t wait to hear what Cracked Vessel comes up with next. I can’t recommend this album enough!!!
The best show you have played this year and why
I feel lucky to have played a lot of great shows this year, but I’d be lying if I said the best show I played in 2016 was anything but ArcTanGent. Playing ATG was an experience like nothing else, and it was the most memorable time on stage I’ve had with Space Blood. We played to a packed crowd at the PX3 Stage on a Saturday afternoon, and it couldn’t have gone any better. Dan Wild-Beesley of Cleft joined us on stage to play our song “I Can’t Stop Seeing Creed” and it was the most fun I’ve had playing in this band. The rest of the bands on our stage that day were awesome as well, and it was the best show we played this year.
The best gig you have attended and why
This spring I saw Shellac and Mono co-headline a show at Bottom Lounge in Chicago and it was beyond incredible. The band does not play that many live shows anymore, so when one happens you kind of just have to go mark it in your calendar as a must go to show because of the rarity of Shellac shows. They are a super tight band live and also still have a lot of fun with it even after all these years, which I really admire. I’ve never seen two Shellac shows that are the same, which makes each one uniquely special and this one was no different. This show specially was the best sound I’ve heard at a Shellac show or any show that I saw this year, and as odd as pairing Shellac and Mono may seem they fit really well together on this bill. Mono had just come out of Electrical Audio after recording with Steve Albini and they played almost all of their new album in its entirety and sounded great.
Highlights of your year
Touring the UK for nearly two weeks with our friends Chiyoda Ku and capping off the tour playing ArcTanGent is easily at the top of the list of highlights for this year. Some other highlights include playing with Enemies in Chicago this spring, playing Wicker Park Fest in Chicago this summer and opening for Cloakroom and Rocket From The Crypt, and getting to record our debut full-length album at Steve Albini’s legendary Electrical Audio Studio.
Artist/Band to watch for 2017
Chiyoda Ku is probably the band I’ve recommended more than other band to my friends to check out this year, and I definitely think they are a band to watch out for in 2017. We got the pleasure to get to them personally while touring the UK with them this summer and watching them perform night after night just showed me how talented of musicians they are and I think they are one of the best instrumental math rock trios out there right now. I expect big things from those guys in the coming year, and wouldn’t be surprised to see them be brought back to ATG next year as well.
Plans for the New Year
Our debut full-length LP will be coming out in spring 2017!!!! We plan to hit the road pretty heavily to support the album, and looking to tour the US, looking to tour in Canada for the first time, and possibly hit up mainland Europe next year as well. Beyond that, just planning on staying weird in the new year.
We cannot wait to hear the new LP, hurry up 2017! We thank you William and look forward to more from Space Blood!