Top 10 grimy, scuzzy, noisy indie rock albums of 2011

December 30, 2011

It’s the day before New Year’s Eve and here you are surfing the Internet. So why not join me on a journey into the depths of the noisy, grimy and scuzzy? If you think (correctly) that loud and noisy rock music has been missing from most of the year-end lists you’ve been reading this month, here are 10 albums — with an embedded song from each — that should provide a nice jolt.

(Some songs may contain language that is NSFW.)

Times New Viking, “Dancer Equired”

The perennial kings of this list. This is TNV’s least obnoxious and rambunctious album, but it still has plenty of mischievious and frazzled charm.

K-Holes, “K-Holes”

Swirling post-punk maelstrom that sounds like a descent into the underworld, from which random howls, blasts of saxophone and pounding percussion claw their way to the surface.

Sic Alps, “Napa Asylum”

The San Francisco avant-garage group works in quick bursts with songs that rarely linger for more than two minutes, but each one has a memorable moment tucked in there. Maybe it’s just a blown-out guitar sound, an off-kilter melody or some spooky bass-and-whistle combo as heard on the song below.

OBN IIIs, “The One and Only”

Beer-swilling, beer-spilling, high-octane rock-and-roll. No micro-genre qualifier needed and the best album of its kind released this year.

Apache Dropout, “Apache Dropout”

Funhouse-style (not the Stooges album) deranged garage-pop with a hefty dose of boogie. It sounds like they are from their own weird little universe. (Actually, Indiana — close enough, right?)

Cruddy, “Negative World”

Full-speed-ahead nihilistic punk with enough spiky twists, turns and surges to break away from the sloganeering masses. Fans of ’90s D.C. bands such as Nation of Ulysses and the Monorchid should especially pay attention.

Rank/Xerox, “Rank/Xerox”

An important ingredient in rock music that’s harder and harder to find recently: tension. This San Francisco trio’s debut has plenty. It’s edge-of-your-seat post-punk at its best.

TV Ghost, “Mass Dream”

Another Indiana band, this group exists at the intersection of Pere Ubu and Echo and the Bunnymen. That means dark, apocalyptic rock music with dramatic vocals that have a hint of romance.

Roomrunner, “Roomrunner”

The best pro-grunge argument in 2011 was not a deluxe resissue of Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” a Soundgarden reunion tour or a flimsy Cameron Crowe documentary about Pearl Jam. It was this Baltimore band’s six-song debut EP, all crunching power chords and flannel fury.

Psychedelic Horse----, “Laced”

Winner of this year’s “Hey, This Is Actually a Pretty Great Album!” award. Previously best known for making bratty, lo-fi songs and giving bratty interviews, “Laced” is a successful detour into damaged bedroom synth madness that’s actually catchy.

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