Columbus is a reasonably big city, and reasonably big cities produce unreasonably huge batches of music. So went the annual deluge of recorded sound. Let’s try to make sense of it all, shall we?
Pop-rock continued to be a strong point. Columbus’ knack for catchy stuff translates into many contexts. We’ve got lo-fi scrappers (Connections, WVWhite, Sega Genocide, Cliffs, The Kyle Sowashes, Joseph Anthony Camerlengo, Times New Viking) and pop-punk basement blasters (The Sidekicks, Tight Bros, Delay), all of whom released stupendous records. Snappy, retro-tinged garage pop proved fertile with The Girls!, Blastronauts and Strangers In Daylight. Anna Ranger and Petit Mal made wonderful, melancholic EPs. The Whiles successfully jangled. June66 channeled psychedelic bliss. Bonneville emerged as masters of gleaming radio rock before going on hiatus. Energetic hybrid duo Twenty One Pilots (whose preferred genre tag “schizoid pop” I coined in Alive) sold out LC, signed to Fueled By Ramen and prepared for world domination.
Hip-hop: Also going strong. Fly Union released the killer Zenith EP, played Jay-Z’s Made In America festival, toured with Kendrick Lamar and dropped the dot from their name. Productive year. P. Blackk released another effervescent mixtape and will unveil Contemporary Nostalgia, his collaboration with J. Rawls, this week. (More on that soon.) Rawls also teamed with Casual for old-school clinic Respect Game or Expect Flames. Khil Datta held his own with MGK on Movementality. King Vada released brilliant teaser tracks weekly. Illogic smartly partnered with Blockhead. Ill Poetic redressed himself in dizzying jazz-funk. Blueprint unloaded thoughtful music with hard-won distinction. Brandon Reichard made a genius video for Envelope, The Catalyst and Jacoti Sommes. Rashad released R&B opus Museum and contributed beats to Hodgie Street’s solid The Go In Part Deux. Youngster Cal Scruby oozed potential on Boy Genius. PATH continued evolving. Apocalypse Inc. did rave rap better than most. Luxury League’s debut bangs. At last, MHz released an LP, one that measured up to their formidable legacy.
Brass blasts were back. MojoFlo and G. Finesse & the N.S. continued party-starting. Their former trombonist Evan Oberla founded his own ace ensemble, E.O.P. Oberla also performed with retro soul sensations The Regrettes. Forest & the Evergreens’ art-damaged soul was revelatory. The Washington Beach Bums had (and inspired) the most fun.
We’re good at being loud. Drose’s brutal, minimal A Voice 7-inch hypnotized me. Twisted garage punk veterans Cheater Slicks and Guinea Worms walloped once more. Pink Reason shifted from bellowing goth punk to something like rock ’n’ roll. EYE’s sprawling Center of the Sun saw wide release, as did Struck By Lightning’s pummeling True Predation. The End of the Ocean built sonic tsunamis; Brujas del Sol crafted other sorts of storms. AS*US tripped me out; Hookers Made Out of Cocaine cracked me up. Sleepers Awake held my attention for 80 minutes. Nervosas ably revived angular post-punk. Psychic Wheels resuscitated shoegaze jangle. Low Men goofed off enjoyably. Lo-Pan’s road warrior status paid off with an opening slot for High on Fire. Not sure where weirdos Survivalist and The Town Monster fit in, but they released good stuff too. Even presumed flashes in the pan Attack Attack and The Unholy Two showed enduring power.
Similarly, we like that old-time rock ’n’ roll. Mount Carmel and Cadaver Dogs turned heads with competing takes on classic rock. The Up All Nights, The Lost Revival, Watershed, Lionel the Jailbird, Total Navajo — each rocked meat-and-potatoes style. Burly, bluesy Josh Krajcik parlayed “X Factor” success into sold-out shows and iTunes power.
Here’s the catchall “acoustic/folksy/country” category. Dolfish, before moving to Cleveland, crafted a smashing debut. Deadwood Floats’ harmonious homespun folk impressed. The Black Swans movingly meditated on loss. Saintseneca stayed awesome. Old Hundred’s Time In the Wild was sleek and stunning. The Middle Rats made a charming cabin record. Mike Wojniak constructed a rich sonic palette. Fort Shame should be proud. So much good hootin’ and hollerin’: Joshua P. James and the Paper Planes, Angela Perley & the Howlin’ Moons, Apple Bottom Gang, Slim White & the Averys. Lydia Loveless kept killing on tour. Red Wanting Blue played Letterman. (Letterman!)
Electronica? That too. Monster Rally and RUMTUM combined on brilliantly brainy sound collages. Funerals’ glimmering techno impressed coast to coast. Self Help (who moved to Cleveland, alas) further exerted thrilling production skills. Monstrous talents roeVy and Digiraatii (who also moved, double alas) strode toward breakout success.