From bruising to beautiful, here are my favorite local albums of the year
As always, there were countless albums I wanted to include here, but these are the ones that consistently sent me back for more.
1. Minority Threat, Minority Threat (Fah-Q)
The brief, blistering sophomore record from this Columbus/Cleveland hardcore crew takes a blowtorch to modern America, railing against everything from income inequality to white supremacy. “We have to fight for what we want to get,” the band howls on the sludgy, pavement-scraping “Clenched Fist.” Here's the soundtrack to the coming brawl.
2. Bascinets, 378 Vol. 1 and 378 Vol. 2 (self-released)
Co-songwriters Nick Wellman and Tristan Huygen anchor this sharp, melodic indie-pop group, which released a pair of fully realized EPs in 2018. The songs are melodic and melancholic, and packed with the kinds of details that hit like a gut-punch. “I don't want to hurt you anymore,” Huygen sings on the vaguely Brit-pop influenced “Whatever Happened?” purposely pausing a few beats before delivering the barbed punchline, “than I have to.”
3. didi, Like Memory Foam (Damnably)
“Meld into something new,” Kevin Bilapka-Arbelaez sings on “Anzaldua,” a song informed by the writings of Chicana author and cultural theorist Gloria Anzaldua. The line serves as an apt descriptor for the continually evolving band, which shifts effortlessly between churning guitar numbers and relatively still tunes like “Beached.”
4. Unholy Two, The Pleasure to End All Pleasures (12XU)
Chris and Kelly Lutzko's uneasy listening band continues to evolve on its latest noise missive, incorporating new instruments into the fold (bass guitar makes a first-ever appearance on “Be Careful What You Wish For”) and choking new sounds from old standbys. Everything here sounds crusty and warped and tortured, including Chris Lutzko, who sings as if the skin is being peeled layer-by-layer off his hide.
5. Red Threads, Out of the Blue (self-released)
The trio of Stacie Laparo (bass/vocals), Rachael Catherine Anderson (guitar/vocals) and Ray Gun the Savage (drums/vocals) recorded their debut cassette in a dank Linden basement illuminated by a single red light, and that ominous vibe bleeds into bewitching tunes like “Spill” and the surreal, slow-burning “Mr. Baby.”