For lack of a ton of Total activity currently going down, we're going to take a look back at 2008, and specifically some of the best releases of 2008 from a Total Fest perspective.
Akimbo (Seattle, WA) Jersey Shores on Neurot may be the first widely-noticed concept record by a self-proclaimed "Seattle hair band" since Queensryche put out Operation Mindcrime. And there's no contest. I can think of no better group to provide the sounds to vocabularize the summer of fear, caused by a shark that chose to eat New Jersey swimmers one summer in the 30's. Akimbo win.
Bad Dudes (LA, CA) Released an LP/CD called Eat Drugs on an excellent label called Kill Shaman. Bad Dudes are like Tubeway Army's ideas with K.K. Downing's approach. Futuro-music.
Black Elk (Portland, OR) Released a record called Always a Six, Never a Nine on Crucial Blast from Maryland. Shreds like a Hobart, set to "shred." Heavy, spacy, spooky and w. Glose's wildman croons over the top.
Black Eyes and Neckties (Bellingham, WA) Released an excellent record called Apparition on Click Pop from Bellingham. It finally broke the band out of its Murder City Devils worship and into excellent, frenetic spook-punk territory.
Black Ladies (Chicago, IL) Part of the "having the word "black" in your band's name was the unspoken criterion for playing Total Fest VII" crew, Chicago's Black Ladies released a 7" called Naked Caveman on a label called Stationary Heart. Sounds like the best '90s aggro midwestern noise-rock. They've added a guitarrist!
Bridgebuilder (Missoula, MT) Self-released a CDR called Lay Waste the Siege Perilous, which captured 19 minutes of the power and fury of Bridgebuilder.
Ex-Cocaine (Missoula/Minneapolis, MT/MN) Released an awesome 12" split with Yellow Swans on Not Not Fun. Features a rad Meat Puppets cover. Bryan from Ex-Cocaine runs Killertree records which put out a beautiful splity between Poor School and Wiggwaum in 2008. This is a must-have LP.
Miss Lana Rebel (Portland, OR) Wantage released Lana's newest, and for our money, best music to date. Pall Jenkins from Blackheart Procession recorded this, and it sounds utterly timeless, beautiful and great. Add excellent engineering to excellent songs and you have a record that will stand the test of time.\
Nudity (Olympia, WA) Released a 12" of their Nightfeeders song on the Discourage (named for the Portland record store home). Featured a somewhat unnecessary remix. Wish this had more songs! Or Just the awesome tunes from their Winter In Red CDR.
Pierced Arrows (Portland, OR) Released a CD/12" called Straight To the Heart. Went straight to many of our hearts. A lot like Dead Moon, but with a Neil Young cover. Inspirational, as always.
The Saviours (Oakland, CA) Into Abaddon came out on Kemado early in the year, and was a whirlwind of whipping hair-windmills. Proof that riffs are still king in the East Bay and that well-executed metal still has the power to bring smiles to many, many faces.
Secret Powers (Missoula, Montana) Recorded and self-released a CD called Explorers of the Polar Eclipse. Sounds a lot like Arlo, backed by the Oblio Joes!
The Sherlocks (Missoula, MT) Self-Released an excellent CDR called La Forest Che Vaga. Sounded like the Byrds, Jonestown Massacre and Velvet Underground. Awesome.
This Runs On Blood (Flagstaff, AZ) Self-released a beautiful 7" called Youngre Strangre. Features the excellent artwork of their singer, Josh, and more devian wildman noise-hardcore blowout than should be legal.
Triclops! (Oakland, CA) Released a very, very, very dense and excellent psychadelic punk record called Out Of Africa on Alternative Tentacles. Not sure if it was about Dinesen's book or what, but in terms of content, it seems to certainly be about Africa.
Titan (Brooklyn, NY) Put out a self-titled, I think, record on Tee Pee. It's like Yes on overdrive. Swirling, progressive and dense as Haagen Dazs.