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Reeling through 2013

Standout sounds from our town
By CHRIS CONTI  |  December 24, 2013

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ACCLAIMED Ravi Shavi.

Holy shit, Rhode Island — 2013 was a monumental year for locally sourced music. Are we spoiled or what? It is an impossible task to shout out each and every musician who rocked our socks over the past 12 months (so much so that last week’s page was devoted just to RI rap), so let’s jump right in.

We start with local label Load Records (loadrecords.com), still kicking out the ear-shredding jams 20 years later. Primal electronic duo Humanbeast tore up Foo Fest 2013 behind Venus Ejaculates Into the Bouquet; woofers be damned when spinning the new album from Dead Air ; and Whore Paint came out swinging with Swallow My Bones (recorded at Machines with Magnets in Pawtucket). Reba Mitchell, Hilary Jones, and Meredith Stern go on the attack via beastly No Wave-inspired bashing. The band recently released a video for “This Body.”

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STIRRING Callery.
’Twas a bittersweet year for 75orLess Records founder Mark “Slick” MacDougall; the small, Warren-based label cranked out some of the year’s best albums, while MacDougall’s flagship trioSix Star General fought through some tough (and totally random) health issues and roared back with Hair Supply . Junior Varsity Arson , including veteran musicians Guy Benoit and 75orLess go-to producer Kraig Jordan, released its debut EP; and drunk-punk foursome The McGunks signed on and dropped the 93-octane Highlights for Lowlifes. And don’t forget the looong-awaited and highly acclaimed debut album He Took a Dive from quartet Northern Lands , who will be at the ’Gansett anniversary party at the Met on December 27. 75orLess has branched out from its indie-rawk roots over the last few years, welcoming Haunt the House and local legend Mark Cutler , who just released another fantastic record in Dreamland. One of my all-time favorite RI performers is Allysen Callery , whose stirring lullabies adorn her latest must-hear album, Mumblin’ Sue. And congrats to Allysen on the well-deserved 2014 SXSW invite. Head to 75orlessrecords.com and check out the entire roster.

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STELLAR Azriel.
Callery was just one of many female artists to shine here in 2013; we heard the return of singer/songwritersLisa Couto (lisacouto.com), Kristi Martel (kristimartel.com), Becky Chace (with partner Brian Minisce on Rise and Fall, available at beckychace.com), and a superb introduction to Sara Azriel on her stellar self-titled EP (saraazriel.com). My yearlong infatuation with Gertrude Atherton (gertrudeatherton.bandcamp.com) continues, as I cannot get enough of the debut EP, Isle of Skulls. Melanie, Nicole, and Shannon (also of bloodpheasant) whip up a fury on “Yellow Fire” and “Ghastly Tramp.” Seek out Gertrude Atherton immediately. And I can’t forget my little buddy Roz Raskin, leader of The Rice Cakes . (thericecakes.bandcamp.com). The 2013 single “Floor Boards” is one of TRC’s best yet, and the trio just recorded its forthcoming album at the Columbus Theatre with help from Jeff and Ben of the Low Anthem (expect a new TLA album in early 2014).

The Columbus played host to a handful of locals in 2013, including Alex Garzone’s Divey project and Vudu Sister (vudusister.bandcamp.com). Vudu frontman Keith McCurdy brilliantly navigates through troubled times on the stunning Household Items (“Daisies” is a stunning song-of-the year candidate).

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