In keeping with the pattern set by “1”, all of the song titles are assigned numbers and pick up after “2“. Don’t be fooled by the chronological system, each of these four tracks are imbued with the singular personality that’s defined the band’s past few releases. A recurrent thread throughout that past work has been an intangible sadness that finds intriguing ways to manifest. The most direct examples of that trait tend to be Rossiter’s lyricism, which tends to evoke an empathetic, even contemplative sense of basic understanding.
Right from the outset of Neverending Catalogue of Total Garbage, those characteristics are in full effect. “3” is the kind of genre-defying slow-burner that’s become a Rossiter specialty, melancholic and memorable. “Act like I’m seeing with my eyes, act like I’m bleeding all the time. I’m doing fine, I’m doing fine.” is the line that closes out “3” and one of Neverending Catlaogue of Total Garbage‘s most defining moments. It’s simultaneously an unfiltered look at the fractured psyche of the central narrator and a therapeutic release.
While “4” and “6” both sustain the EP’s sense of trajectory, they’re slightly more experimental affairs (the latter, especially so). Even with that experimentation, there are moments of bruised romanticism, underscoring the potential value of this entire project on a grand scale. “5” may be the most traditional inclusion of Neverending Catalogue of Total Garbage and the first of the new recordings to incorporate any sort of percussion. The song also manages to be one of the EP’s most direct moments and still retains the EP’s sense of poetry.
All told, Neverending Catalogue of Total Garbage is a thing of beauty. As a reaffirmation of Young Jesus’ innate artistic ability, it’s heartening. As a continuation of a standalone project, the EP is fascinating. As its own entity, it’s surprisingly essential. Antithetical to its title at every turn, Neverending Catalogue of Total Garbage winds up being a perfect example of 2016’s unexpected vibrancy. Don’t let this surprise release become a glossed-over footnote, provide it with the investment it deserves and walk away rewarded.
Listen to Neverending Catalogue of Total Garbage below and pick it up here.
Once again, this will began with the two necessary prefaces to all of the year-end list coverage: “best” is a term used loosely as it’s a reflection of personal taste and the first person restriction will be lifted so that these lists can be as direct- and as personal- as possible. Over the past few weeks I’ve gone through thousands of releases (revisiting in most cases but discovering in a few others), organizing, reflecting, and ranking every single one that caught (or continued to catch) my ear. This list and all of the ensuing lists have been condensed to 14 selections representing the very best of 2014 and, in addition to those picks, there’ll be an auxiliary list of every release (with hyperlinks provided when applicable) that I considered putting into the top 14. After all of these lists have gone up, there will be a multi-part project that provides a fitting end-cap to this site’s 2014 coverage. Since the title’s somewhat ambiguous, it’s probably worth noting that the releases taken into consideration for this particular list included flexi’s, plexi’s, CD-R’s, demos, online singles, and other titles only available digitally (or on cassette). Additionally, there will be a few other singular “best” efforts in niche categories above the long list. So, without further ado, here are the 14 best online singles (and other assorted oddities) of 2014.
14. New York – 20 Minutes From Here
20 Minutes From Here is the exhilarating sound of what happens when you throw members of Iron Chic, Shang-A-Lang, Low Culture, and Jonesin’ into a room with instruments. It’s a hastily recorded and scrappy as hell collection of fiercely energetic basement punk songs that (even with the unabashedly lo-fi aesthetic) rank among the best entries of the considerable careers of everyone involved.
13. Dan Webb and the Spiders – September Demos, Perfect Problem
One of the first things I noticed about Dan Webb and the Spiders’ two 2014 releases is that they have a distinctly Midwestern feel, despite the band’s Boston residence. While that may stand out as a curious anomaly (if not entirely unprecedented- Springsteen’s from New Jersey, after all), it’s a small fact that pales in comparison to the band’s casual brilliance. Both their demo reel and Perfect Problem suggest this is a band that’s latched onto something that should open quite a few traditionally sought-after doors.
12. Grubs – Dec 15/Gym Shame
It’s unsurprising to learn that Grubs and Joanna Gruesome share at least one common member; both bands exist in the exact center of Reeks of Effort’s wheelhouse. Sly, somewhat cynical, partially twee, and entirely vicious, Grubs’ teaser effort’s an extraordinarily tantalizing appetizer. If the album they’re currently recording lives up to what they’ve achieved here, 2015 will be due for a very strong highlight.
11. Sea Ghost – Spokes/Gold Teeth, Cave Song
Sea Ghost are another band who, like Dan Webb and the Spiders, turned in a few unexpectedly powerful efforts to start their careers off in 2014. Between the gently propulsive trio of “Spokes”, “Gold Teeth”, and “Cave Song”, they’ve come out swinging. With those three songs, they’ve already managed to exude a greater sense of identity and refinement than most bands manage to conjure up in their careers. Operating with subtlety, nuance, and verve, they’ve more than earned a status as a band worth following.
10. Earth Girls – Demo 2014
More than a few outstanding demos surfaced over the course of 2014, Earth Girls’ punchy take on the bridge between basement punk and powerpop managed to exceed even those high standards. Dark undertones permeate throughout each of these five songs, which are recorded in a way that accentuates their formidable atmosphere and relentless power. Reminiscent of Nervosas with an extremely heightened affinity for powerpop, it’s no surprise that the band’s next release is due out on a label as revered as Dirt Cult.
9. Dark Thoughts – Four Songs
One of the strongest basement punk releases over the course of the past 12 months was a four song demo debut that embodied some of the genre’s best qualities. Incendiary guitar work, venomous vocals, ferocious (and ferociously short) songs, and a palpable level of varying frustrations and unease. It’s brisk, it’s to the point, and- importantly- it’s memorable.
8. Broadbay – Demo(n)s
I can’t stress enough how strong the crop of demos from 2014 wound up being. That Broadbay’s insanely strong Demo(n)s isn’t even the highest ranked demo release in this list should say quite a bit about this very welcome aspect of the past year. Visceral, engaging, and powerfully dynamic, Demo(n)s is a resounding announcement heralding the arrival of Broadbay- and it’s one hell of an arrival.
7. Mulligrub – Canadian Classic
Over the course of this site’s 14 month existence, I’ve been fortunate to receive a handful of emails from bands containing great music that didn’t get the amount of press it deserved. Mulligrub’s Canadian Classic was one that connected with me immediately. As such, nearly every reason for why this is appearing in this list has already been laid out. Those reasons haven’t changed.
6. Toby Coke – Face Taker
Last year, Joseph Frankl (also of The Frankl Project) wound up cracking one of these lists with a strong solo release. Frankl outdid himself this year with another solo project, this time operating under the moniker Toby Coke. “Face Taker” may only be one song but it more than illustrates Frankl’s enviable skills as a songwriter and hints at Toby Coke being a project that could pay massive dividends. It’s also yet another instance of my initial thoughts growing even more certain.
5. Trifles – Demo
Trifles’ Demo seemed to come out of nowhere but when it hit, it made sure everyone felt its mark. Dark and unforgiving, this is the crowning jewel of a very specific new, emerging breed of post-punk. Taking all of the aesthetic and emotional cues from bands like Pleasure Leftists and integrating them with something easily accessible (while also managing to take some cues from hardcore) made this one of 2014’s most fascinating releases in any format. Unsurprisingly, it’s also one of the best.
4. Infinity Crush – Heaven
One of the year’s finest songs was relegated to a modest tumblr post, which somehow fit the song’s nature to a tee. “Heaven” may be the quietest song on here but it’s also the most emotionally-charged (and devastating) to have come out in 2014. As a public self-examination, it’s alarmingly brutal and frighteningly heartfelt. “Heaven” is a deceptively cruel title for a song that’s dressed up beautifully but is secretly bruised all to hell.
3. Dweller On The Threshold – Decimal Spaces, Ollie Ox & Free, Barnfire
Looking at Dweller On The Threshold’s lineup (and their respective correlating pedigrees), it shouldn’t be surprising that the music they’ve been slowly unveiling has been masterful. Members of Parquet Courts, Kindling, Ampere, Death to Tyrants, and Daniel Striped Guitar are all involved in this project that blurs the lines between post-rock and shoegaze more successfully than just about any band making similar attempts. All three songs the band’s made publicly available have been towering genre masterpieces leading up to what’s promising to be a breathtaking full-length debut.
2. Bent Shapes – 86’d in ’03
“86’d in ‘o3” isn’t just the best song of Bent Shapes’ career, it’s one of the best powerpop songs to emerge from the past few years. Backed with “Bridgeport Lathe” on a lathecut picture plexi disc, it’s also one of the year’s more curious limited run items. I’ve already detailed my love for the A-side but “Bridgeport Lathe” has managed to sneak its way into my subconscious. Both songs complement each other in odd ways, demonstrating the considerable range that makes Bent Shapes one of Boston’s more celebrated local acts and both songs are strong enough to land them a spot on this list.
1. Slight – Run
Between this and LVL UP’s Hoodwink’d, drummer Greg Rutkin had an absurdly strong 2014. No two-song release was stronger than Slight’s follow-up to their excellent townie490EP. With members of site favorites Trace Mountains and Painted Zeros also involved, it probably shouldn’t be too surprising that this wound up taking this spot. In the review I originally posted, the emphasis fell on the influences the band turned to as touch points but largely eschewed the band’s unwavering sense of atmosphere. I don’t know if it’s the production, the tones, or just a happy accident but it’s hard not to think of the band practices and basement shows where everything just clicks while listening to both of these songs. There’s grit, determination, sweat, and an unfiltered sense of joy and affirmation reverberating throughout all five minutes and forty seconds. Run is imbued with a celebratory sound (whether the intention was willful or not) and it’s a release well worth celebrating.
As the holiday season descends, the output of new music and videos decreases. That fact’s both a blessing and a curse. While it does provide some time to catch up on everything, it also limits the cathartic rush of new material. Fortunately, there are a few genuine gems that slip through the cracks. For example: Saintseneca’s wonderful (and wonderfully contained) stab at Holiday canon with the understated “Plastic Baby Jesus“. For those looking for a reprieve from the Christmas season, there was Swings’ kinetic and brooding “Heavy Manner“. Chill Mega Chill’s wonderful Tape Deck The Halls mixtape proved to be a perfect concoction for anyone looking to find a new batch of holiday tunes and The Le Sigh: Vol. II immediately threatened to achieve a status bordering the iconic.
Even with all of that madness going on, Mulligrub somehow managed to be responsible for the craziest item of the past few weeks: the stuffed animal-heavy music video for “Sprite Zero”. Back in July, the band released the outstanding Canadian Classic and are now expanding on its promise with a new song (and an insane new video to match). In “Sprite Zero”, a variety of stuffed animals meet up and have a party. The staggeringly brilliant editing provides the clip with an abundance of verve and humor. While the clip pits expectations against reality and achieves something unforgivingly dark, the song lends the whole affair a feeling of genuine vibrancy. Quick-cuts abound, a party gets out of hand, and Mulligrub ends up with one of the most delightful items of an increasingly promising career.
Watch “Sprite Zero” below and keep an eye on this site for any upcoming Mulligrub news.