Wednesday, January 16, 2013

SHEENA DAVID - Top Ten of 2012

    I first met Sheena as a teenage (?) punk kid named David who looked and played drums kinda like Dave Grohl from NIRVANA (although Sheena's mathy/post-punk beats were way more intricate). Her band played at the Farmhouse in Cleveland, MS, a tiny dot of a town on the Mississippi Delta where I spent a small fraction of my life. Since then, Sheena has weaved in and out of my life through music and a shared town. I've always kinda been in awe of her ability to be open and excited about new music and new ideas, taking on the world as if it was created yesterday (but that's mostly because I'm so jaded). Here's Sheena to tell you about her top ten.

SHEENA DAVID'S Top Ten of 2012

  •  SLUGGING PERCENTAGE set in the middle of a kickball game. "No thanks," is my typical response when someone asks me if I wanna join in on a game, athletic or otherwise. Kicking the competitive habit is a process that has been years long for me, but when I heard Columbus, Ohio's own SLUGGING PERCENTAGE was playing on a baseball diamond as a kickball game swirled around them, I said, "Hell yeah I'll play!" SLUGGING PERCENTAGE is a two-piece sludgy hardcore band whose lyrical lessons teach you all about some weird shit that's gone down throughout American baseball's history. They play in full baseball jerseys and usually structure their sets to mimic a baseball game (9 songs, 7th inning stretch, first pitch, etc.). On this summer day on the diamond, however, they stretched their set to an hour, playing every song they knew to maximize play time, and provided the best soundtrack to a kickball game ever while some strange punks looked on from the bench, sipping their 40s.

  • VACATION "Kirby Sessions" tape. This is a really dirty, blown out sounding tape recorded by VACATION at their home in Cincinnati. I've seen VACATION a dozen times or so by now over the last few years, and they are one of those bands that only gets better and better with time. I feel like they refined their use of feedback and noise on this tape, not so much that it isn't a key part of their music, but it seems like they're doing more of what they want with it or something, and that they've been focusing more on tight songwriting.. Anyway, VACATION plays super catchy, amazing songs and kind of has most of what I want in one band. I think they're releasing an album very soon with cleaner production.
  • Young Biographies short story zine by Bella Bravo.  Bella Bravo is a very talented writer living in Bloomington, IN. They've written two zines full of their short stories, and Young Biographies: Short Stories for "An Aching Kind of Growing" is their second. There are five stories enclosed inside the durable, aesthetically-pleasing cardstock cover. I guess you could call it realistic fiction, but I'm not that good at identifying literary genres. Either way, their pensive writing has a firm yet smooth flow and, I think, would appeal to anyone who struggles to land in a world so harsh and strange. I think you'll have to run into them in the office they work in, at a punk show, or a courtroom to snag a copy, at least for now.
  •  Stunned Lungs poetry zine by Tara J. Tara J is pretty much the one responsible for getting me to actually understand and appreciate poetry. They live in Columbus, OH, and they write about sensitive subjects like anxiety, depression, queerness and sex. Their performance reading these poems is never short of completely engaging and striking. I'm wishing now that I was better at describing what I love most about pieces of writing because these poems are fuckin good. Beautiful block print cover (of a linocut they cut themself) with stitched binding.    (Can be ordered from Doris distro as well).

  •  HICKEY - "Various States of Disrepair" 2xLP reissue I guess one could argue that this really shouldn't go on a 2012 top ten list, but fuck it. I discovered Hickey just a couple years ago and it was impossible to find releases of theirs in Indiana (and most places I figure). So when I found out Various States was getting reissued, I was ecstatic as Hickey quickly became one of my favorite bands of all time. And I don't know about you, but I love "Lady Naugahyde". WIRED AND WEIRD / TIRED AND QUEER / LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO DO. Matty Ramone.

  •  Understanding my gender.  I hated 2012. I am so happy it is finally over. Everything seemed to flip upside down and turn inside out, but I know most of the shaky shifting came from a dormant sense of self that couldn't sleep any longer. I came out to my friends as a trans woman last year, and I am still in this process of "transition" (but aren't we all in transition toward adjustment in a nonsense world -- transitioning to a fulfillment that is dictated from our own selves and not from a hateful, unforgiving culture?). I'm telling my family very soon, but I know that whatever happens, honoring my gender has been absolutely necessary to keep living.
  • Make Waves Fest. Over the last couple years I've found myself enjoying punk fests less and less, but a group of sweethearts in Columbus put on Make Waves Fest last fall and I was in love. With an explicit intention to include more women, queers and folks of color, I witnessed lots of performers that I had never seen elsewhere on the Midwest DIY punk fest circuit, if you will. The curators of this festival did one hell of a job too because I was blown away by everyone who performed their music and writings. Make Waves really had an atmosphere of caring and togetherness that enveloped the weekend. Being a smaller audience with a high freak count, I felt at home and comfortable in a crowd.
  •  WHITE WALLS "Kevin: The Magnum Opus" EP.  WHITE WALLS from Cincinnati is a group of sweet dudes that play hardcore that's heavily influenced by the MELVINS and NIRVANA. I've been fortunate enough play shows with and see them a few times over the past year or so, and last time they were in Bloomington, they played my house and I got a copy of their newest 12" EP. It is one of my favorite records produced by a currently active band. One side holds the seven-minute title song solitary, and it is just perfect. Most of the song is carried with a repetitive and pounding two-beat pulse at a turtle's pace before an early 80's style hardcore punk break, free from any hints of contrivance. The other side of the record is gold, too, and it includes a sick cover of the PIXIES' "Bone Machine". And as for the fucked up sounding vocals: I love it.

  •  YOUR HEART BREAKS  "Harsh Tokes and Bong Jokes". Clyde from YOUR HEART BREAKS gave me this tape when I saw him in Seattle at the beginning of 2012, and it loops consistently in my car. One thing that baffles me about this record, and in a totally magical way, is how much it seems to have followed my life: from the Farmhouse in Cleveland, MS -- which was a longstanding sign of hope for my Mississippian teenage punk kid self -- to Bloomington, my currently reluctant residence. And then from there, he sings songs of finding family in communities of outcasts and of the terrifying struggle of existing in a trans body. I usually cry at least once when I listen to this tape, and I feel really lucky to have it.

  •  -TWEENS "Live at Mohawk" tape.  I saw TWEENS for the first time at Make Waves Fest after already being given a copy of this tape from Jerry and Peyton of Vacation. Bridget rounds out the group with her fuzzy, glimmering guitar and the angelic pipes in her chest. They play blown-out, fuzzy and distorted covers of 60's girl group pop songs with pitch-perfect melodies. I think they're writing their own songs now? Anyway, they gave me pure rock n' roll fun last year. 

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